PR is (still) a difficult job to explain

Despite efforts to define the public relations profession, it remains difficult for practitioners to explain their jobs. The author takes a crack at explaining why this is so, and what it means to be a PR pro.

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That’s a good question, as the inner workings of PR aren’t as obvious to an outsider like they are for say, a doctor, lawyer, or tennis instructor. As a result, answering this reasonably straightforward question can be a challenge.

When my friends bring it up, the words that come out of my mouth are always, “Um…well…” as I quickly try to come up with something that isn’t a textbook definition. When my parents ask, I preface my answer with, “It’s hard to explain.” And if my grandma was to ask, well, I would have to clear my schedule for the day to give her a satisfactory response.

As graduation neared, and I found myself rigorously pursuing post-college opportunities, this question spurred glimmers of self-doubt. After all, would it not be tragically ironic if someone looking to break into public relations couldn’t even communicate the most basic answer about what he’d be doing professionally? Especially if he had already racked up some experience in the field?

I’ve now spent several months post-graduation working at a large agency, and my suspicions have been confirmed. There is no one answer.

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