Finding Your Niche as a PR Professional

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Summary: For a bright, articulate person, public relations is an extremely inviting field offering a wide variety of employment opportunities. While everyone accentuates the role of the public relations specialist as it relates to the corporate world, one must also make it clear that there are many other avenues along which the public relations person may travel.

For a bright, articulate person, public relations is an extremely inviting field offering a wide variety of employment opportunities.
 
While everyone accentuates the role of the public relations specialist as it relates to the corporate world, one must also make it clear that there are many other avenues along which the public relations person may travel. These include public affairs, community relations, public information, media relations, public opinion surveying, government relations, financial or investor relations, political campaigns, consumer affairs, and the ever growing area of research and statistics.


 
In all these areas, the old adage concerning public relations holds true. "PR" means Performance and Recognition. Especially in the intangible areas of communications and persuasion it is necessary for those entering public relations to be able to decide upon a precise desired result and to develop strategies to obtain it. One must be able to ascertain whether he or she has achieved the desired result. After all, if the professional public relations person is unable to interpret what he or she did, then why and how can a client support the program?
 
We need more professionals in the field of public relations who know and can explain why they're doing what they're doing, and they must have the knowledge and skills to interpret the "what" and "why" for their clients.
 
We need more professionals who know how to assess the winds of change and who can serve as a two-way conduit of understanding between the client and the public. There are still too many public relations people who act like the old time stunt pilots—flying by the seat of their pants without a compass or a flight plan.
 
Unless you do your planning early, you will begin with uncoordinated perceptions. It is to your advantage, and the client's, to plan ahead. A public relations effort must be launched with mutually agreed upon objectives: agree on what publics your client wants to reach, the tools of communication to be used, and the yardsticks for measuring the results.
 
Another problem that lingers in the communications business is that too many so-called experts still measure only the tools of their trade, assuming that goals and results are identical twins. They are not.
 
Client and public relations advisor both must be measuring the same thing. They must agree before, during, and after a communications program on targets and objectives.
 
A good public relations program must insist on setting up a reporting system that is consistent and on a face-to-face basis. Face-to-face meetings go a long way in the constant educational process. Written reports emphasize the "what"; face-to-face meetings add the dimension of the "why." More nuances of understanding are possible in an instant feedback situation.
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