Public Relations for dummies like me

Last week, my landlord put an advertisement, looking for a new tenant for one newly empty room. The next day, one viewer came and asked to view the room when I opened the door. After I told him to wait for the owner to come, he then asked me what I was studying or doing in London. When I said: “I am studying Public Relations”, he then snapped at me and made me feel regret to my bone for having opened the door for him: “Oh, it’s for nothing.” Really? Is public relations for nothing? Let’s see (hold my beer!)

I won’t bombard you with countless definitions of Public Relations (PR) because I think it would make you feel like I do when someone is bragging to my face about how Wall Street runs while I am dumb at math (just a metaphor!). I will take some examples to help you have a more-clear view of what we do then you yourself could have the better understanding of who PR practitioners are.

First of all, we create news. Journalists are busy. We are all busy. So why don’t we save them some time by sending them the stories that we thought would be good for their publishing company and our company? John Lloyd and Laura Toogood have called PR executive a “reporter’s friend”. They wrote “if journalism is the first draft of history, then public relations is the first draft’s first draft,” and “giving newspaper’s reporters and editors comprehensible narratives was the main – for some the only – job of the PR man for much of the twentieth century.” So the first task, we send out something for you to read.

for_dummies-1Second of all, we protect the reputation of our company/organization/people that we’re working for. Remember two airplanes of Malaysian Airline crashes? After those two accidents, whoever has fled with them received an email from them telling that they were sorry for that had happened and literally asking us to stand by their side. You remember that? That’s a PR move. Or do you remember that following the event, many pieces of news told a story about the CEO of Malaysian Airlines going door to door, paying his condolences to the lost passengers’ families? Yeah, that’s what we do too. We don’t lie. But we seek for sympathy when our reputation is under harm.

So by telling you this, I just want to give you a glimpse of what PR is about. We are not “nothing”. We are something, just like other departments in one company or one organization. We show you that you are doing a good thing by believing in us.

We are like the mother, trying to raise our baby, making our child better, physically and mentally, so you could see and then go out and “gossip” about how good our family are while the father (marketing) is working his ass off getting the money to feed the family. See? Easy!

And as a matter of fact, you are a PR too. For yourself. Ask the people around you about how they think you are. If the feedback is good, then your PR strategy is right. Not good? Well…You need to hire a PR for yourself.


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