Public Relations has historically been attributed many different elements depending on who you speak to.
We define PR as a method of raising, developing and protecting client profiles – a definition that our clients happily give testimony to.
And within that process, we embrace a wide range of mechanisms to reinforce client profiles but we still rank media relations, including online, print and broadcast, as one of the most crucial means.
People may argue that this is because of our journalistic qualifications – particularly those who studied for a PR degree, and may have an understandably restricted insight into the workings of the media, but they'd be wrong.
We rate media relations highly because the media provides an ongoing dialogue about all that is important within the business and social spheres across the country and beyond. That dialogue is fundamental as a means to place client achievements so that they are recognised by an audience which has chosen to read about it.
And one of the reasons we are consultants, is knowing when to say no. Not everything is news - and there are many more ways to enhance those profiles through insightful PR initiatives. What benefit is there to a client if a fragment of a hashed up story is pushed to the media? None. To go public with insubstantial 'news' can actually be damaging to that client's profile, making them appear less than they are - but we see those scrappy stories appearing all too often.
There are many other valuable elements to our trade. Social media is a fascinating and important tool to engage with and it carries positive and negative connotations depending on how it's handled. Clients rely on us to steer them through the complexities of issues like; what impact will Google's indexing of Twitter have on a website's SEO?
They also rely on us to help them build a social media strategy that has some strategy behind it. Not to simply follow everything and anyone on Twitter in the misunderstanding that volume of following is of any use - if it is not a targeted and relevant following.
And this takes us to another PR skill – that of crisis management. This is something we have many years of experience in at national, breaking news level. Knowing how to manage the media, the client and the communication of any information in a time of crisis is, to quote a noted credit card company, priceless.
Priceless because you have one opportunity to get it right and to save that client from untold damage through unconstrained information flow. Priceless because knowing how to manage a situation can sometimes save the client and also the media from reportage which has no gain for either organisation.
I was also reminded recently about how important our understanding of website and online communications is - as we were advising company directors on how to restructure their website to help engage with site visitors, the valuable adoption of rich media and other initiatives.
Also how e-newsletters can be used to communicate effectively with internal and external audiences, how intranet systems can be optimised – the list goes on…
We haven't even started on events and how they can be used to maximise coverage around a specific topic or launch an initiative, how press-release tie-ins with other organisations only work on rare occasions or the client is at risk of forever being associated in the second sense to another company or organisation. And that is damaging – imagine if your PR wasn't deemed strong enough to stand on its own two feet? How degrading is that..?
And let's not forget content provision, copy-writing, web-video, media management at events, interview sourcing, comment placement, trade media coverage, media training, research publishing, awards submissions…
This blog could easily become a list. So there it is in a nutshell – PR, whether it is in Sheffield, South Yorkshire, England, America, China – we cover it all and we cover all of it...