I could honestly talk about PR for hours. Especially in front of a willing audience, accompanied by a cheese board and nice glass of red, writes Tess Pennington.
When I first started working in what I think is a pretty special industry, I was often asked to explain exactly what I did, especially in social situations. “Is it like advertising, do you create adverts?” That was the perfect question to start me off: “Umm no, it definitely is not and no we don’t.”
So, what is PR? The CIPR, PRCA, IPR all have similar definitions: ‘how organisations communicate with their public, manage reputation and influence positive perceptions’. In the early days when pitching for new business, we always included Bill Gates’ famous quote: ‘If I only had two dollars left in the world I would spend one dollar on PR’. That was some endorsement and always helped to drive home the value of the work that we were proposing. Thank you, Bill, for PR-ing PR!
We’d talk about our media outreach and our expertise in copywriting, events and competitions, and all the PR tools that we used in order to communicate our messages. As well as the odd endorsement or two when apt. We would include the value of what we’d expect to achieve in terms of editorial coverage, based on what would have been paid for had it been an advert. And we did incredibly well.
But that’s not enough anymore, which poses the question: Has PR died?
Today, consumers are much savvier; we’re fickle, we want things to be exactly as we like them and we want them at exactly the right time for us. This is especially true when it comes to food and drink. Look at the wealth of businesses in the sector. Whether it’s a brand or a service, competition is just remarkable and new trends are constantly emerging. There’s so much choice, it’s no wonder businesses have to shout louder than they used to. As PRs, there are new ways to communicate those all important key messages. Brands can now engage very easily with the end user but, more importantly, end users can engage directly with a brand.
The rise of social media changed reputation management overnight; everyone has an opinion and that opinion is (frequently) heard by everyone. As social channels evolve, we’re having to think of new ways to attract followers and readers, through paid-for support (yes – that’s advertising), asset creation (design), developing influencer outreach programmes (endorsement) and we have become masters of content.
Indeed, content is still king. We’ve got to be fantastic story tellers. We’ve got to stand out from the crowd. And it’s more important than ever that what we say resonates with our audiences in order to cut through. But we’re still developing events, competitions and implementing media liaison. To have a brand or service endorsed by a respected journalist or opinion leader has more value than any brand shouting about how great they are on their own. This is why we spend our time building invaluable relationships, sharing relevant and timely information and ensuring that our clients, small or large, have a strong share of voice in everything that they do.
So, no, PR hasn’t died. It has simply evolved and it is more important than ever. There’s so much that a brand or service can say, there are so many more ways to share this information and in today’s demanding, fast-paced world, as communicators, we’ve had to adopt new tools, adapt to new platforms and devise fun, engaging and innovative ways of communicating.
I feel very lucky to have spent my career story-telling and talking positively about a brand or service in food and drink. Yes of course, it can be challenging but for someone who counts eating and drinking well as one of their favourite things to do, I can’t possibly think of a better way to spend my working day.
Did I mention that Fleet Street Communications is recruiting? This isn’t just a shameless plug. BUT, if I’ve managed to positively influence you, if anybody is looking for a career in communications, specialising in food, drink and hospitality, Fleet Street should definitely be on any candidate’s target list of agencies.
We’ve got a growing portfolio of fantastic clients, we have a great team of experts to learn from and have fun with, and we’re currently looking for a keen, driven, friendly individual who is right at the beginning of their PR journey.
There’s so much more to PR than what I’ve touched on above and for somebody who is interested in food and drink, there’s a fantastic opportunity for an exciting career path with us. Please share with friends and colleagues and send CVs to: firstname.lastname@example.org