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If you’ve never used a public relations agency / consultant / firm before, you might have the misconception that their only job is to write and send press releases. For this reason, many companies find public relations to be an unnecessary expense. Unfortunately, this myth ends up depriving many businesses of a service that can help their business grow and thrive.

Media relations is certainly an important part of the public relations profession, but it is only a small sliver of the public relations pie.

So what does a public relations consultant do on a daily basis?

Everything!

Take a look at any PR firms web site and you will see a long list of services that we frequently provide our clients.

From building light-hearted, entertaining social media campaigns to the more serious scenario of crisis communications, a public relations specialist helps businesses craft, articulate and disseminate their message in a variety of ways.

One of the more common tasks handled by public relations professionals is content creation. Public relations consultants are writers by trade. A professional, well written web site, for example, is one of the most effective tools for any business in this digital age. Well written online content not only showcases a business in the best light possible, it also helps drive traffic to your site, and ultimately, customers to your business.

Profile of an Emergency Department nurse at Medical Center Alliance.
Profile of an Emergency Department nurse at Medical Center Alliance.

Beyond web site content, public relations professionals often write a client’s marketing materials, speeches, scripts, email and direct mail campaigns, and internal communication plans. Some consultants handle event planning, video production, and public speaking engagements.

Perhaps the most overlooked element in the public relations skill set is the ability to solve a business problem. In many cases, especially in small businesses, the owners do not have a business plan or often an out dated plan with little to no work placed in achieving the business development goals. PR pros. work to establish goals and then lay out a plan to ensure that through good use of communication tools, described here, business leads are warmed, existing clients are retained, employees are informed and involved and investors are curious!

Helping business find a way to give back to its community. A Gold Star family before their donated helicopter tour. Epic Helicopters
Helping business find a way to give back to its community. A Gold Star family before their donated helicopter tour. Epic Helicopters

Still, most businesses primarily associate public relations with media.

So why is this such a common misconception?

There are several reasons the public relations profession is often thought of as strictly MEDIA relations.

  • Many companies who seek out a public relations professional because they want or need media attention.
  • Earned media reaches a large audience, therefore it is very valuable for businesses looking to grow their brand and expand their customer base quickly. For this reason, many clients view it as the most important aspect of public relations.
  • Traditional media exposure often yields an immediate return that is easy to measure.
  • Many public relations professionals are former journalists and were well known within the community for their work in media prior to becoming PR specialists.
Alliance construction coloring pages
One of the coloring pages from a Construction Coloring Book.

So if you are thinking about hiring a public relations consultant because you need or want the assistance of a media relations professional, great! Do it! Public relations consultants are very skilled at acquiring earned media for their clients, and can provide media training to help you look your best in a news report.

However, if you are one of the many who still think public relations is an unnecessary expense because “all PR people do is send press releases,” I would encourage you to consider the value in our other services.

Public relations is an all-encompassing field. PR consultants wear a lot of hats. While media relations is one of our hats, it certainly isn’t the one we wear the most.

By: Melissa Newton-Smuzynski

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