If you were a junior member of a PR staff, for example, you might be expected to introduce key members of your staff to the media, or possibly introduce the president of your company to the press. Later on, when you're more experienced, you'll be called upon to actually represent your company.
It's not uncommon for public relations workers to give lectures to company employees concerning new products or explain company policies, and even to be a guest lecturer at a college or university.
Experienced public relations workers often have to make informal presentations as well as give formal speeches. After working in the field for a number of years, they have mastered all aspects of the communication process. They're comfortable with people and language, and they can just as easily write informative news releases as make an impromptu speech if they have to. Face-to-face communication doesn't faze them in the least.
Research and Evaluation
Whether you're involved in programming, preparing a house organ, gathering information, writing speeches or making arrangements for a demonstration and lecture tour, research and fact-gathering are a crucial part of the PR worker's job.
A PR representative often has to spend hours gathering information and poring over facts, figures and statistics in order to prepare detailed, accurate and timely material.
Imagine that you work for a company that dominates the soft lens market. You're part of a 15-person public relations staff. You have to prepare a press release about the company's newest and most revolutionary soft lens that is just about to be introduced to the public.
It sounds simple enough, yet there is more to it than you think. Just having all the information on the new lens is only the first step. It is certainly valuable, but that's not the whole story. What you don't know is how extensive the soft lens market is. Who has done what? What is the competition like? Why is your company's new soft lens so special?
You may never actually use all the information you gather, but as a spokesperson and expert on your company's products, you have to know your product from stem to stern. You have to know its advantages and shortcomings (if any), and you have to be able to discuss them intelligently within the context of the current market environment.
In gathering the information, you'll probably have to spend a few hours in the library poring over past and current developments in the field, and possibly speak to a few experts for a technical perspective.
Or suppose your client is an emerging actor your public relations agency feels is a potential star. The agency, which happens to specialize in public relations for actors, singers and musicians, is currently in the process of preparing a press kit for the actor. The press kit will include a couple of eight by ten photographs (called glossies), along with a four-page biography (bio). The production staff is in charge of the photos, while you're responsible for writing the bio.
The bio is a valuable media tool. Magazine and newspaper writers use them as source material to prepare stories and reviews. A biography contains all the blood and guts information a writer needs to write a factual story: age, background, credentials, in sights and pertinent quotes from the entertainer that can enliven a story.
The first thing you'll do is interview the actor at great length. Equipped with a pen, pencil or tape recorder, you'll try to get as much information as you can. By spending time with your client, you'll try to get a sense of what the person is all about. Instead of delivering dry facts, you are going to whet an editor's appetite by highlighting interesting facts and observations about this person. Possibly, he did some unconventional things in order to gain recognition, or he might have faced a great deal of opposition in his climb to the top.
Once you've gathered all the facts, you'll go back to your office and prepare a first draft of the bio. Based upon the material you've gathered, you'll be able to produce an informative biography that will help the young actor get the publicity he needs.
Or, if you're in the midst of preparing your company's annual report, chances are you'll spend a lot of time with your company's attorneys and accountants gathering information for the report. You'll also be talking to regional managers to find out if there are any significant developments that warrant mentioning.
In preparing speeches, speech writers practically live with the person for whom they are preparing the speech. Aside from gathering the information, they also have to know something about how the person thinks, talks and expresses himself. If he has a unique way of turning a phrase, for example, the speech writer will try to capture that facet of his personality when writing the speech. No matter what the project or assignment, it will undoubtedly involve a certain amount of research, fact-gathering and evaluation.
As you can see, PR workers wear many hats. They perform many different functions, each of which is nearly a profession in itself.