I’ve worked in marketing for roughly 20 years. But I still can’t answer the simple question of, “What is PR?”
My friends and family work in PR at big agencies like Golin and Hunter. I’m still not totally clear on exactly what a PR team does.
I mean, yes, it stands for Public Relations. That much I get. But overall, I just don’t have a full grasp of what the heck PR really is.
As it turns out, I’m clearly not alone. In Amanda Proscia’s new book PR Confidential: Unlocking the Secrets to Creating A Powerful Public Image, she takes that very confusion and proceeds to spell it out in an incredibly entertaining and easy-to-understand manner.
Now first off, let me give a full disclosure here.
Amanda sent me an advance copy of the book to read. She’s a co-founder of Lightspeed PR/M, along with my childhood friend Ethan Rasiel. (Shoutout to the boys from Brook Hill Drive!) Ethan even wrote the forward! When he told me that his co-founder wrote this book explaining PR and would I like a copy to review, I said sure.
I’ve certainly worked with my fair share of PR agencies before and definitely know some of what they do. But I figured maybe this book would help shine the light a bit more on this mystical corner of marketing. If I was bored or didn’t like it, I just wouldn’t bother writing about it. If I enjoyed it, I’d whip up a simple review pointing out the highlights.
As it turns out, I absolutely loved this book.
I don’t do many book reviews here on Mommy’s Busy, though that may change in the future. I was not only highly entertained while reading this (I legit laughed out loud a number of times), but I can honestly say that I now have a much better grasp of exactly what PR is.
And yes, I have a newfound respect for all you PR folks out there.
Dear PR Pro
Amanda clearly knows her PR. That’s never in doubt. But it’s not her decades of hands-on experience that makes this book so enjoyable.
It’s a combination of her informal and conversational style, mixed with an Advice Column format. Taking questions she’s no doubt received hundreds of times in her career and presenting them in a “Dear PR Pro” format (complete with funny signatures like CONFUSED AGAIN or OUTTA HERE) just makes this such an easy and fun read.
The format works so well here. It makes you feel like you’re sipping coffee with your old friend Amanda, as she casually answers all your questions about Public Relations. Amanda also does a wonderful job of explaining via example. She uses real stories from her career to get her point across whether it’s showing how a strategy worked or even how it fell flat on its face.
For those that didn’t work at first, Amanda explains how her company quickly reacted to turn things around if possible, as well as explaining why a specific strategy didn’t work. She even created a fictitious company, Blarg, to help demonstrate the ways that PR helps build a company’s perception for its audience.
So what is PR?
According to the book’s glossary, Public Relations is defined as, “Managing public perception of an organization by creating the right kind of awareness and driving actions to achieve business goals.”
I’m not going to spend time dissecting that definition. Go read PR Confidential instead; there’s no way I could do even half as good a job.
From start to finish, the book walks you through everything that PR is and… well, isn’t. Yep, one of the best ways to learn about public relations is to define what PR is not. And that’s exactly how Amanda tackles things.
She’ll pose questions that business owners or PR newbies are no doubt thinking right now. And she’ll readily admit that defining PR isn’t a short and simple answer.
Planning an advertising campaign is all about promotion, but it’s not PR. Sales is part of an overall marketing mix, but it’s not PR. Paid media is a big part of a marketing plan, but it’s not PR.
Amanda dives much deeper into those tactics and more, using various examples and even illustrations like a Marketing Umbrella with PR, Advertising and Sales all being supported underneath.
PR Confidential goes further than explaining “what is PR?” It delves into how you can measure success, what you should look for in a PR agency and ultimately how to make PR work for you and your business.
A perfect Public Relations primer
I wish every business book was as entertaining and educational as PR Confidential. I can’t recommend it enough.
Whether you’re completely new to the public relations scene, are in need of promoting your own company or product or have always just been curious about PR, this book will be your new BFF. It even points to a slew of free online PR resources that you can access.
It’s time to solve the mystery of “What is PR?” once and for all. And after digesting the helpful high level approach of PR Confidential, the only question you should have left is how do you want your image to be perceived.