Within large companies it's quite common for large public relations staffs to be loosely carved into internal and external workers.
One worker, for example, might edit the company newsletter, which involves maintaining close and productive working relation-ships with employees. He or she might prepare stories about enterprising workers who are moving up through the ranks, report on marriages, births and deaths, and also be a sounding board for employee grievances.
Public relations workers involved in external public relations concentrate all of their efforts on keeping their company's name before the media. Keep in mind, however, that in most small-to-medium-sized companies, PR workers are jacks-of-all-trades, per forming both internal and external functions.
In the process of communicating either internally or externally, public relations workers function as creative intermediaries. If you're involved in external communication, for example, your job is to act as a buffer between the company and the outside world.
When someone requests information about your company, be it a reporter on a trade paper or a customer, you are the company representative or spokesperson. You speak for the company and are responsible for getting the company's message across.
If a member of the press requests an interview with the president of your company, you are the one who makes all the arrangements. If the reporter wants to know about a discontinued product or information about next year's earnings projection, this too falls into your domain. Many of the routine questions can be answered without doing any research. But if you don't have the answers handy, you're responsible for getting them as promptly as possible.
A public relations worker's job has its tense moments also. If the company is in trouble, be it a legal dispute or a barrage of customer complaints, you're the one who will have to face the cameras and microphones and defend your company to the media.
If a company is embroiled in a heavily publicized lawsuit, rarely do you find the company's president on the six o'clock news. More likely, a company spokesperson, which is a fancy title for public relations representative, is before the camera, coolly and professionally fielding questions. In cases like this, the director of public relations sits down with the company's president and between them they decide upon a strategy for handling the problem.
You have an important job. After all, you are the voice or instrument that dispenses up-to-the-minute information about your product, company, agency or client.
Presenting the Right Image
In acting as a creative intermediary or liaison, your job is to pre sent your client in the best possible light. You've probably read or heard a great deal about corporate or product images. A good part of a public relations worker's time is spent in creating a true and undistorted image of what a company, or product, is all about.
This isn't always easy, especially if you're talking about a gigantic multinational conglomerate whose products are competing in an international marketplace.
For example, imagine that you're the head of a national drug company and you've just introduced new and controversial toothpaste that is supposed to reduce tooth decay by 20 percent.
Naturally, your competition has no intention of letting you capture the marketplace. No sooner does your new toothpaste hit the market than an anticipated product war begins. Your leading competitor wastes no time telling the consumer press that your product is a gigantic rip-off and cannot, in fact, reduce tooth decay. With one sweeping statement, your credibility has been questioned.
What do you do?
The first thing that has to be done is to schedule a long meeting with your PR director in order to fashion a counter strategy that will right the tables and present the true story to the public. This might include drawing upon medical evidence that states your toothpaste actually reduces tooth decay. Your goal is to restore the company's good image and leave no doubt in anyone's mind that your company is reliable, honest and truthful, and, most important, that your product does what it says it can do. To drive home these important points, your public relations staff will stand on their collective head to present the company in the most favorable light.
A poor image can be disastrous and a strained one can have a negative effect on sales over the long term. So it's not hard to understand why a PR worker will bend over backwards to get the right image across.
Celebrities, for example, retain public relations firms to make sure that the public sees the image they want to project. Often you'll read about a heated controversy in the press over what a reporter views as the projected image and what he thinks the true image is all about. If it's a big star whose name is constantly making headlines, it often makes for sizzling copy. This is another form of public relations work. There are public relations firms that work exclusively with celebrities. Their job is to secure favorable publicity and exposure for their clients. It might mean wining and dining members of the entertainment press in order to secure favorable interviews and reviews.
A public relations firm that represents a rock and roll star will burn the midnight oil to come up with a promotional strategy that creates a saleable image for the client. Just any image won't do. It has to be one that captivates and snares the band's projected audience.
Imagine that the Conrad Celebrity Ltd., a public relations firm that specializes in promoting musical acts, just took on a new client -a wildly talented teenage rock and roll band that hopes to make it big with the early teen set.
Conrad has a tough job ahead of them. Out of the vast music-buying public they have the difficult job of exciting the imaginations of teen listeners. After countless, tiresome meetings, Conrad's PR executives and the band's manager and agent devise a strategy that they hope will launch the band in grand style.