Inside the Profession

Friday Five: Upholding the Value of Public Relations in the Midst of Change and Disruption

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For far too long, public relations has been viewed as a magical tool that has the ability to  tell an organization’s compelling story and as a result increase sales, raise awareness of a hot-button issue or change an audience’s perception. Some executives believe in the fairytale, but not too many people actually know the reality of what it takes to pull off a successful public relations campaign. As a result, public relations professionals have to push and shove to learn how to be better suited to survive in a competitive market.

In this week’s PRSA “Friday Five” post — an analysis of the week’s biggest public relations and business news and commentary —we explore the art that is public relations. We look at the persistent changes to the profession that push practitioners to become experts in different fields to keep up with the disruptions and transitions that get in the way of delivering on promises and contributing to the bottom line.

Public Missing the Boat on the Versatility of PR Pros (PRNews)

This week PRNews posted a query on their Facebook page asking their fans “What PR skill do you feel is undervalued?” Nearly 50 people responded with various answers including measurement, media relations and creativity. One practitioner went as far to say that she felt all PR skills are undervalued. The query struck a nerve a number of public relations professionals, many who seem to think that large aspects of their job are undervalued because ultimately people do not understand the role public relations professionals play in their designated companies.

Traits of a Solid PR Professional (PRWeek)

Scott Signore of Matter Communications offers his take on what characteristics are found in successful public relations professionals. Find out if you’ve got the right makeup to make it in the public relations profession. Here are a few of those characteristics:

  • Business-minded: Smart PR people always need to have an end goal in mind before moving forward with any PR activity. At the beginning of any campaign ask yourself “What do we (the organization) want to accomplish?”
  • Flexible, nimble, go with the flow: Public relations professionals must adapt to change pretty quickly. Social media and regulation changes are two big factors that can cause a PR plan to change direction or create situations that require public relations professionals to be adept and act quickly.
  • Writing skills, a must have: The quality of content is a major driver in website activity and more importantly establishing faithful followings. For this reason, public relations professionals must continue to improve their writing to articulate well their storytelling abilities. 

It’s Time to Reinvent Public Relations (Edelman Digital)

After looking back at the last 15 years of his career, David Armano of Edelman Digital, Chicago, discusses how modern communications is being transformed by the disruptive nature of search, social and mobile and suggests a few areas that he believes public relations professionals “must aggressively embrace and do differently.”

  • Creative: There are a lot of agencies that claim to have creative talent but you have to ask yourself, as an agency, what is this creative talent capable of? Does you creative talent have the capability to create that “thing” that the media will want to write about or are your resources more focused on solely doing outreach for something that is already created?
  • Analytics: Measurement and analytics has moved far beyond counting placements or pulling together traditional media clippings, but what is the best way to support the ROI for public relations efforts? Ultimately, it comes down to a combination of data collection and analysis. The most useful tools and best data vary by company and client.

PR Specialist Named One of the Nation’s Best Jobs (Ragan’s PR Daily)

According to U.S. News and World Report, PR specialist ranks 51 on a list of the 100 of the nation’s best reported jobs. The report described the job of a PR specialist as the following:

“There’s a lot of finesse involved in producing and distributing materials that uphold and promote a client’s image. The field’s elite also have a gift for gab and understand the art of the sell. Expect this occupation to grow by nearly 23 percent by 2020.”

The forecast for growth in the profession is promising and provides even more opportunities for growth and development for those already working in the field. Data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics was used to determine ranking of each job, salary information as well as future job prospects.

Using PR as an Agent for Change in Corporate Sustainability (The Guardian)

While the practice of public relations has been known to raise awareness of various issues and change the publics’ perception or attitude, a recent discussion at the World Economic Forum in Davos brought into the question the role that public relations professionals can play to effect real action and change. Public relations is seen as a key player in “accelerating progress on key sustainability issues.” The challenge is in the execution and persuading all parties involved to change habits that obstruct a sustainable lifestyle. The Guardian suggests some initial steps that public relations can take to play a more active role in building trust and effecting change.

Nicole Castro is the public relations associate at the Public Relations Society of America.

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Nicole Castro


  • Very well written. It’s sad to hear, particularly as someone just about to enter this profession, how often employers and coworkers misunderstand and undervalue what PR is, and what those in PR do. It’s not always the glorious position, but still an important one. It’s encouraging to see the forecasts, and to know that some have a made a big name for themselves. Let’s see how many more names we can get out there!

  • As a student studying PR it is wonderful to know that the field is going to grow and develop! This article is very helpful in seeing what PR is all about or what it should be all about. I also liked the three specific ways of knowing if you’re going to be successful at PR; always good to check yourself! Thanks for inspiring a young PR student 🙂

  • Could not agree more with the “Traits of a Solid PR Professional” but to add to what was already stated would be a way to evaluate yourself and whether your PR campaign was a successful one or not. Proving your worth to a company or organization will only benefit yourself. Great post! I enjoyed reading more about the profession I am studying!

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