The Ubiquitous Craft of PR: More Than Just a Line Item

By Kelly Ferraro Kelly Ferraro has been verified by Muck Rack's editorial team
Published on December 20, 2023

“Either write something worth reading or do something worth writing,” said Benjamin Franklin, one of the Founding Fathers of the United States.

This quote elegantly captures the essence of Public Relations, called PR, a field about creating narratives worth sharing and actions worth noticing. Despite its crucial role, PR is often underestimated and undervalued across both corporate and public sectors, with the practitioners often referred to as “flacks.” 

While every industry faces its challenges with representation, PR practitioners often find themselves unfairly grouped. This generalization overlooks those who possess genuine expertise and a nuanced understanding of the art of securing a place for a client’s story.

PR in Entertainment and Media 

Netflix’s “The Crown” exemplifies the critical role of PR in shaping narratives, particularly regarding the British Royal Family and their interactions with the paparazzi. Known for their relentless pursuit of exclusive images of high-profile individuals, the paparazzi’s tactics often clash with the need for positive public relations.

The series poignantly demonstrates how strategic “good PR” is essential in countering the potentially damaging effects of the paparazzi’s intrusions. It highlights the delicate balance the Royal Family must maintain in their public image, often countering unfavorable paparazzi shots with carefully managed, favorable portrayals. This is illustrated in instances like Prince Charles and his sons’ portrayal at Balmoral, where controlled and positive images are disseminated to shape a preferred narrative.

“The Crown” is just one example among many TV shows and films that incorporate PR tactics into their storytelling, underlining the real-life significance of PR in managing public perception and countering less flattering narratives.

PR in the Corporate World

PR, often mistakenly viewed as a secondary priority in the corporate world, particularly during budget cuts, plays a far more vital role than commonly acknowledged.

An insightful MuckRack article from earlier this year highlights this misconception, emphasizing the delicate nature of reputation: “Reputation is hard won and easily lost. In today’s digital age, brands are inherently opted into the realm of PR with no option to opt out. Public perception directly influences sales and customer loyalty, both immediately and over time. The key to navigating this landscape lies in employing astute PR strategies.”

This perspective underscores the indispensability of PR in maintaining and enhancing a business’s image. Companies like Disney exemplify this principle. Despite facing obstacles and audience retention and acquisition through the years, Disney meticulously cultivates a positive, family-friendly image through strategic PR efforts. This approach not only helps in managing immediate challenges but also in preserving its long-term reputation as a beloved, trustworthy brand. Such examples serve as a potent reminder that effective PR is not just a crisis management tool but a crucial component of sustained corporate success.

The Art and Science of PR

Public Relations is more than just a set of mechanical strategies; it is an intricate art form akin to weaving a rich tapestry of narratives. This craft requires a blend of creativity, skill, and strategic foresight, like a photographer masterfully capturing a moment that tells a story.

In PR, every message, every campaign, and every interaction is an opportunity to engage and persuade. It involves carefully choosing words, timing, and platforms to craft a narrative that resonates with its audience. Like a skilled photographer who understands the interplay of light and shadow, a PR professional knows how to highlight the strengths and address the weaknesses of their client in the public eye.

The PR field is deeply rooted in understanding human emotions and societal trends. It requires an empathetic approach, where listening becomes as essential as speaking. PR professionals must be adept at reading the room – and understanding the cultural, social, and psychological factors influencing public opinion and behavior.

Moreover, PR is about reacting to current trends and anticipating future ones. It involves a proactive approach to reputation management, where potential issues are addressed before they escalate. This aspect of PR is akin to a chess game, where each move is calculated, and potential outcomes are considered.

Another crucial aspect of PR is storytelling. A good PR campaign tells a compelling story that connects with its audience on a personal level. This storytelling is not just about presenting facts but about weaving these facts into a narrative that is engaging, authentic, and relatable. It’s about creating a connection beyond mere transactions to build lasting relationships.

In addition to traditional media relations, the digital age has added a new dimension to PR. Social media management, content creation, and online reputation management have become integral parts of the PR toolkit. This evolution requires PR professionals to be good communicators and savvy digital marketers.

The art and science of PR also involve ethical considerations. It’s about maintaining integrity and transparency while advocating for clients or organizations. PR professionals must navigate the fine line between persuasion and manipulation, ensuring that their practices contribute positively to the public discourse.

The DIY Myth

The “DIY Myth” in PR suggests that tasks like photography, article writing, and reputation management can be effectively handled in-house or without professional expertise. This assumption is increasingly popular in an era where tools and information are readily accessible. However, it underestimates the depth of skill and experience required in these fields.

Professional PR expertise is not just about crafting a single positive article or taking a well-composed photograph. It’s about understanding the nuances of public perception, developing a long-term strategy, and consistently executing it to build and maintain a positive image. While one or two well-received articles or media pieces might offer a temporary boost, they are not sufficient for sustained image enhancement.

Effective PR involves a strategic approach that aligns with the overall goals and values of the organization. It requires an understanding of the target audience, the media landscape, and the subtleties of message crafting. This is where professional expertise becomes invaluable. PR professionals can navigate the complexities of media relations, crisis management, and brand positioning in ways that a DIY approach often cannot match.

Long-term PR strategy is about building and maintaining a narrative that resonates with the audience, responds to changes in the market, and addresses any reputational challenges proactively. It involves a continuous process of engagement, evaluation, and adaptation. Professionals in the field use their expertise to analyze trends, anticipate potential issues, and craft responses that align with the company’s long-term vision and objectives.

While the DIY approach to PR might seem appealing and cost-effective in the short term, it overlooks the specialized skills, strategic planning, and depth of understanding necessary for effective long-term reputation management. Companies aiming for lasting positive public perception benefit significantly from the insights and expertise of professional PR practitioners.

The Changing Face of PR

The landscape of Public Relations has undergone a significant transformation with the rise of digital and social media. It has evolved from traditional press releases and media networking to encompassing online reputation management, social media engagement, and digital storytelling. This progression has not only diversified the field but also underscored its critical importance in modern communication strategies.

In today’s digital age, PR is an essential component of any robust communication plan. It demands a reevaluation of its role, recognizing the skill, artistry, and expertise necessary to effectively maneuver in this multifaceted domain. As we consume stories, whether through various media platforms or corporate narratives, it’s important to appreciate the meticulous craft behind the scenes – the craft of Public Relations.

To conclude, the realm of PR represents a dynamic fusion of art and science. It requires a delicate balance of creativity and empathy, blended with strategic insight and a commitment to ethical practices. In the field of PR, messages are not merely disseminated; they are intricately woven into the public’s consciousness, crafting narratives that not only shape perceptions but also influence decisions and forge lasting reputations.Amplify your voice and message through storytelling

By Kelly Ferraro Kelly Ferraro has been verified by Muck Rack's editorial team

Kelly Ferraro is an events columnist at Grit Daily. She is the CEO and president of River North Communications, touting two decades of experience as a corporate communications and TradFi professional. She is also the chapter director for VNTR, and is a three-time mentor with Outlier Ventures. Having worked at Bank of America and Guggenheim Securities, she is well-equipped to design and implement media campaigns aligning with business objectives. Kelly began her career at a hedge fund, developing a love for numbers as they told a company’s true story. She is also passionate about the evolution of blockchain and believes transparency is the key to widespread adoption.

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