Dear PR: You had me at hello

By: Robyn McIsaac

For most people, explaining to others what they do is simple. Accountant. Electrician. Teacher. Those are professions people understand with one simple word. Those of us who work in public relations, however, are regularly faced with blank stares and a “so what exactly is it you do?”

Admittedly, I didn’t know about PR until I went to Mount Saint Vincent University and learned about the Bachelor of Public Relations program. At that moment, it was absolutely clear that this was my future. And it’s a profession I have loved every day for almost 25 years (ok, maybe with a few exceptions).

But, thanks to Edward Bernays and a few bad apples that don’t represent the majority of ethical PR professionals, we are regularly called “spin doctors.” This is particularly offensive because it comes with an implied accusation of propaganda and dishonesty that makes me want to take a shower. The only thing to be gained by “spin” is a dangerous web.

We are fortunate in Halifax to have two top-notch PR programs and two professional associations that teach students about ethics and the true nature of PR, resulting in young professionals who are as enthusiastic about PR as I am.

Here are the top five reasons why I love PR:

1. PR is all about relationships.

Building. Preserving. Valuing. PR brings a unique perspective and offering in relationship building. It doesn’t matter who your audience is – if you don’t have strong relationships you might as well say good night. Relationships in any business – with employees, neighbours, customers or government – are at the heart of public relations and any good, no great, communications strategy. Having strong relationships doesn’t mean you’ll always be in the clear, but they will help you through good times and bad.

2. PR nurtures creativity.

For those of us who like to use the right side of our brain at least as much as the left, PR delivers. Writing, strategizing, and solutions can all be (and often need to be) creative. The joy of finding creative ways to connect with your audience can satisfy the artistic urge that many of us crave.

3. Opportunities for professional and career growth abound.

It doesn’t matter where you start, there is always room for growth and/or change. By its very nature, PR can take you down many different paths, all very professionally satisfying. I’ve been fortunate to have gained deep knowledge and understanding in numerous PR specialities such as internal communications, media relations, corporate social responsibility and more. If you’re really good at what you do and work hard, career opportunities will find you and you can rise to the top if that’s your heart’s desire. You can choose to specialize or be a generalist; either way, there is never a dull day in PR.

4. PR transcends industries.

One of the best things about PR is the opportunity to transfer your skills to any industry or sector. It doesn’t matter that you started your career in education, but have always loved performing arts, or that you’re working in the private sector and want to move to non-profit. Or spent a lifetime working for someone else but always dreamed of starting your own agency. Anything is possible because PR skills cross all sectors.

5. Your greatest work will never be known.

This isn’t entirely true, but don’t expect to win any industry awards for your best work (in some cases). In the world of PR, the work we do can sometimes be sensitive and requires the utmost professionalism and respect for confidentiality. If you can guide your employer or client successfully through an issue or avoid a crisis by being prepared and providing ethical counsel, then the right people will understand and respect the value you bring.  That’s the true gratification of PR.

I could go on, but why should I have all the fun? Whether you’re a client or a PR pro, drop us a line on social media and tell us why you love PR.