What to Tell Your Friends and Family Who Don't Know What PR Is

You researched public relations extensively. You understand what kind of careers it offers, and you even know where you want to be in five years. Your friends and family, however, have no clue what PR is, and you’re not sure what to tell them.

Like many other public relations majors, you find yourself frequently explaining what PR is to your friends and family. So often that you aren't even sure what it is. Well, maybe not. But it would be nice if there was just a simple way to tell those curious people--  because who are we kidding? Public relations is a wide variety of things with a lot to explain.

How about we start with the basic: Ask your curious friend or family member what their favorite company is and why. One of the reasons they love that company is probably its ability to communicate effectively. It is important for companies to uphold a relationship with their consumers and key publics. They do this by maintaining a strong social media presence and finding unique ways to engage with and involve the public in their decisions. Public relations is a bridge between the media and the company. Companies need to be careful not to burn it. But if they do, there’s always a PR team ready to help rebuild the damage.  

Public relations is also the immediate image and feelings you get when you think about a particular company. Ask your friend to think about Nike. They probably immediately thought of a check mark, right? They probably also thought of sports and felt motivated to act, given their slogan, “Just Do It.” Their overall feelings are due to brand recognition and reputation, and there is a PR team behind that, as well. Public relations is responsible for promoting the brand of a company and ensuring that they look favorable to the eyes of the public. PR is both proactive in maintaining a positive image and reactive when crises occur.

Finally, ask your friend if they’ve ever been the target of a social campaign that resulted in them pledging to not smoke tobacco or to practice safe sex. Well, that's PR! PR is made up of organized campaigns that result in a shift in public behavior. Campaigns consist of a series of activities and planned events that ultimately relate to a specific goal. This goal can be to increase public engagement with a company or to build awareness for a specific cause. Think of PR as the social influencers behind companies and their brand; they help spread viral conversations.

Explaining PR to your friends and family members can be daunting at first, but once you identify examples that surround you in the media today, you can help simplify it. Instead of giving them the textbook definition, provide them with real-world experiences. Chances are, they have been influenced by a PR team before.

Written by Tamarra Thal