As the field of public relations continues to grow and transform, it continually changes from just taking orders to actively solving problems for clients. In the past, PR professionals worked routine tasks and getting the client’s brand everywhere and anywhere possible.However, as competition grows and customers gain more power in the marketplace, the demands placed on PR experts changes too. Rather than provide requests for specific tasks, clients now provide a problem or goal for PR pros to solve.
To some, this might seem like a daunting task, but this is exactly what makes public relations the exciting and dynamic field it is today.
Problems to Solve
The problems and goals clients have in mind may range from boosting visibility to making a crisis less visible in the media.
Public relations experts now tend to specialize in certain areas, or different teams are assembled for different tasks. After all, making something more visible requires different skill sets than making something else disappear.
For the most part, brands call on public relations firms to assist with crisis management. In the 24-hour news cycle, few companies can manage this task on their own. The simplest comment can be misconstrued by trolls, journalists, or dissatisfied customers to mean something far worse than originally intended. And once bad publicity starts rolling, it’s a difficult thing to stop.
Goals to Reach
Other companies employ public relations experts to help them achieve foreseeable goals. These clients are most commonly in the areas of politics, entertainment, sports, and technology. Some of the goals might include penetrating international markets, gaining sponsorships, building partnerships, and becoming a household name.
The bigger the brand, the more likely they are to employ someone full-time to handle their public relations affairs, even if it means just having someone on board to handle social media accounts, and plan events.
As this approach to public relations becomes an ever-present reality, more schools update courses to provide more relevant training to college students. For instance, a teacher at Ball State University revamped the PR publication design course to reflect the reality of work in PR. Rather than have students physically create ads via typing, paper, and glue, she brought the course into the digital age.
This helped prepare students for an age where few things – especially in PR – are done manually anymore. Providing students with hands-on experience also prepared students for the real world of work.
“The professor can no longer be the sole judge of a student’s work,” the teacher, Megan McNames, said. “My job is to open the door and let students take control. Instead of telling them what to do and how to do it, I let them explore because that is what they’ll do when they graduate.”