What is a Public Relations Specialist?
By Sue Voyles / April 1, 2021 / effective communications, Media, public relations
The world of business is full of specialists. Just consider the medical or dental fields – the number of highly trained doctors focused on a specific physical aliment or disease can be overwhelming.
In the world of communications and marketing, there are special skills associated with business and technical writing, social media, design, advertising and much more.
For public relations professionals the term “public relations specialist” is an interesting one that often needs clarification. At a firm like Logos Communications, our entire term specializes in PR services, and so the idea of a specialist connotates a much broader set of skills and talents.
So, let’s take a closer look at what a public relations specialist does.
PR is alive and well
Before we get too far, remember that public relations is very much alive and well throughout the world of business. Certainly, the infrastructure of the news and media industry has changed dramatically, impacting all of the key publics being served. For the most part this expansion of methods to share information is a benefit to small and mid-size business owners and executives hoping to gain visibility.
PR happens — Thanks to specialists
The approach to relationship building in business, or what we call public relations, has been around for more than a century, and has seen lots of changing roles due to technology and, as noted, the way news and information is communicated.
Basically, a PR specialist “engages,” seeking to share news as well as build lasting relationships or connections. At one time the Public Relations Society of America (PRSA) defined PR as helping “an organization and its publics adapt mutually to each other”
That clearly means being focused on many publics and not just the media. So, public relations is exactly what it says – a relationships with one or more publics, as PRSA suggests, which might include a local community, social interest groups, shareholders, employees and, of course, clients or customers.
Recently, a more modern definition has taken hold thanks to the practitioners of the PR craft. According to PRSA, PR now “is a strategic communication process that builds mutually beneficial relationships between organizations and their publics.”
At Logos Communications our specialists are men and women who strive to showcase, in a favorable light, the services, products and accomplishments of our clients. This is done through a wide range of approaches including, but not limited to, press releases and media pitching, special event planning and support, award nominations, and social media posting. Another important aspect of the work is assisting clients understand their audiences and identify the best methods for reaching them.
The media’s role is still fundamental
One key role that hasn’t been reduced in recent decades is the one a public relations specialist plays in engaging with newspapers, magazines, radio and television stations and other media outlets, with a goal of connecting a company in a broader way and perhaps gain what is “earned media” – coverage that is earned by being newsworthy versus exposure by paid advertising. Both approaches are needed; earned media should not be counted on alone to help a business reach those “publics” important to them.
Still, getting a client in the newspaper, or on air, or in front of a television camera is often a critical function of any good public relations specialist worth hiring.
Knowing the public, and the media
Lastly, public relations specialists truly need to be guided by an understanding of the very groups they will interact with on behalf of their clients, the same groups the client already deals with on a daily basis.
So, besides planning, writing and releasing information in a variety of ways to a variety of groups, a PR specialist studies the habits and feelings of various publics whether within a community, the buying public, a corporate board room or shop floor, and even the impact and nature of cultural, political and religious viewpoints.
Naturally, a PR specialist needs to know the media. They need to be acquainted with the types of outlets that exist, who is in what roles within these media companies, often with their own specialists covering specific areas of news (e.g., business, sports, culture, health) and they need to cultivate relationships. That’s done by being responsive, honest and offering unique angles when possible to a story or working hard to ensure that when the media does call, the client is ready and willing to interact.
Ultimately, a public relations specialist is generalized when it comes to skill sets, but also remains focused and specializes in engagement, human nature and an understanding of what is important and what will work for the client.