Written by Olivia Andurs, Account Executive on Jordan Schnitzer Museum of Art Account Team.


How do you explain Public Relations?

Public Relations in its simplest form is “A strategic communication process that builds mutually beneficial relationships between organizations and their publics,” according to PRSA’s definition of PR.

However, when you say this to your peers, family or other interested parties, it’s likely you’ll receive blank stares. Unlike other professions, most of the general public does not understand what public relations professionals do.

It’s difficult to explain such a complex industry. Part of the reasoning behind why the general public doesn’t understand this profession is simply because PR pros do the behind-the-scenes work. Similar to a puppet master, PR pros work to orchestrate all the puppets (clients) and make sure everything on stage goes well.

We pitch the story ideas, but Journalists write them. We craft the strategic campaigns, but CEO’s accept the awards. We write the speeches, but officials deliver them.

So yes, it can be difficult to explain PR to your peers. Here’s where to start.

1. PR Professionals Build and Maintain Relationships

PR pros target media and build rapport with journalists, bloggers and influencers. For example, PR pros will pitch ideas to reporters in order to earn their client media coverage. A key component that sets PR apart from advertising or marketing is its third party validation. PR pros work to achieve earned media.  PR pros work to assess the client’s situation, identify news trends and target relevant media outlets. They build relationships with key media outlets, rather than directly engaging with stakeholders and the public.

2. PR Professionals Tell Stories

It is the job of a PR professional to understand the most effective way to share companies’ stories with its target audience. This can take the form of press releases, case studies or blog posts. Conducting research is an essential component in this process. PR pros must be experts in their client’s industry. They use creative storytelling to portray their client’s point of view. PR pros tell stories by presenting complex information including numerical data, clearly and concisely in written and visual formats.

3. PR Professionals Excel in Writing

It is important to be a strong communicator. While this industry has evolved, strong writing is more important than ever and here’s why: writing is at the core of persuasion. How PR pros write their message is a crucial part of their success and in this digital age, there is no room for error.

4. PR Professionals Create Strategic Campaigns.


Strategy determines the success of a PR pro’s communication. After conducting research, PR pros develop strategic plans that allow them to generate leads and coverage for their client. In turn, these creative and strategic campaigns lead to a growth in sales for their clients. Social media plays a large role in the tactics that PR pros implement and it requires diligent planning and constant measurement.

5. PR Professionals Measure Success

PR pros’ efforts are routinely measured to meet their client’s business goals. They achieve this by analyzing data and web analytics to track the success of their strategic campaigns.

These five descriptions will help you explain PR to your peers. To read more about this evolving profession check out a few PR blogs including Richard Edelman’s 6 A.M. and Spin Sucks.


Olivia is interested in solving complex problems using strategic communication. She is a senior with majors in Public Relations and Journalism along with a minor in Business Administration. Olivia has a driven work ethic and a positive personality. Outside of her professional life you can find her sipping coffee and indulging in lifestyle, food and fashion trends. After graduation she hopes to work at a PR agency in Seattle.

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