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What is PR? 141 PR and Comms Pros Explain What They Do for a Living

141 PR and Comms Pros Explain What They Do for a Living

If you ask 10 different public relations (PR) professionals what they do for a living, you’d get 10 different answers. For example, the 2019 JOTW Communications Survey posed this question to 223 PR and communications pros…and we received a wide variety of answers from respondents.

Some of this variety stems from the organizational chart. More respondents (38%) say the comms function reports to the CEO, versus 35% that say they report to the CMO. While in an ideal world, these two executives are aligned, they have understandably different approaches.

“When communications is too tied to marketing, it is more difficult to keep a pulse on the broader business,” wrote Tammy L. Nienaber, in yesterday’s issue of Ned’s Job of the Week (JOTW) Newsletter. “Communication teams must straddle all worlds.”

It’s a valid point, but it also depends on the industry and culture of the organization.

In the B2B technology world, which is the lenses through which I examine things, I’ve found PR usually reports to marketing – but supports the whole business – when a company is small or young. It can develop into a separate function, often reporting to the CEO, as the business grows.

What is for sure is that a solid PR team is versatile and can expertly cover down on a broad number of functions: internal comms, external comms, executive comms, media relations, analyst relations, corporate social responsibility, thought leadership and marcom, and as I’ve long proposed, content marketing, among many others.

(click image for higher resolution)38 percent of PR pros report to the CEO

How would you explain what you do for a living in simple terms?

The survey received 177 answers in total to this question. I culled through the answers pulling out as many as possible that were fit for print and listed them below. The illustration (nearby) is a word cloud of these answers, which have been edited only for style, spelling and grammar.

1) “Make sure that employees, customers and the market understand our company, its services and goals.”

2) I help our executives and sales leaders convince their audience why they should trust our firm to manage their assets.”

3) “I make complicated things sound simple so people can understand them.”

4) “I advocate on behalf of people with chronic conditions.”

5) “Advocacy and promotion for my company’s products and services.”

6) “I say that it’s my job to discover stories and try to convince journalists to cover them for their outlets.”

7) “I help get my clients in the news and ensure people remember their organizations.”

8) “Consult, coach, teach.”

9) “Helping an organization get favorable press.”

10) “Write and create content for internal and external audiences about my company.”

(click image for higher resolution)s_141 Ways PR and Comms Pros Explain What They Do for a Living

11) “I get my clients, who are experts in their fields, into newspapers, magazines, online publications and on TV and radio.”

12) “Write for businesses.”

13) “I write and post content for our customers and our employees to teach them about our company, products and vision.”

14) “I help communicate, promote, and sell new products or services to potential customers and other stakeholders.”

15) “Help employees understand what is going on in the company, and help executives talk to employees.”

16) “I help companies and organizations talk to their audiences; the people that like them.”

17) “I help companies make more money by getting good publicity.”

18) “I write and distribute press releases and get executives in front of the media.”

19) “I write stories for our magazine and newsletters, manage the print production and put them on our website.”

20) “When you see our organization or issue mentioned in the news, someone I work with has likely helped get the organization or issue there.”

21) “I use print, online, and social media to convey to important people – prospective students, donors, legislators, and the news media – the work this university does to educate people and improve their lives.”

22) “I am a storyteller and I look out for people.”

23) “I develop the strategy that helps the leaders and business grow and get better; I write speeches and stories for the company; I lead a team and we find creative ways to get the attention of our employees so they understand where the company is going and listen to what they need; we try hard to protect the company’s reputation and make it even better.”

24) “I do research to better understand what people know about college sports and then try to help fill the gaps with compelling content and proof points.”

25) “Help businesses or issues standout for all the right reasons.”

26) “I help my boss communicate his goals and priorities to the entire workforce.”

27) “Engage with our customers and stakeholders on issues that are important to them regarding our services.”

28) “I build my clients’ reputations by telling their stories via the media.”

29) “I help communicate to different audiences what our company does.”

30) “Marketing and branding strategy.”

31) “I communicate with the public to enhance awareness about important issues, news campaigns, research and reports, by writing key messages to communicate information effectively and consistently, both externally to press, partners and influencers, to help spread the message and reach a wide audience, and internally with all colleagues for their communications.”

32) “I help to communicate to the outside world about our organization.”

33) “I write speeches and press releases and talk to the media on behalf of the state’s chief fiscal officer about revenue, unclaimed property, government payroll data and other topics.”

34) “Do you know the ice bucket challenge? A PR team was responsible for that.”

35) “I help employees understand what’s going on in the company and our industry.”

36) “I encourage walking, biking and taking transit to school by making it easy for students and families to choose these modes over driving personal vehicles.”

37) “I take what other people say and do and transform it into messages and stories that people can relate to, draw information or inspiration from, and use in their daily work.”

38) “Publicity.”

39) “I help companies communicate to their audiences. These may include members of their organization, or profession or outside audiences we want to share our work or opinions with.”

40) “I help employees working at large companies understand the business strategy and link their work accordingly. I help the executives become stronger communicators. I also help support employee engagement efforts.”

41) “I help companies get more visibility by assisting them in getting the word out about what they provide and how they help customers.”

42) “I write stories and create graphics that inform people.”

43) “I help organizations and individuals improve their communication skills and activities and measure the results.”

44) “Improve the image of my company.”

45) “I help companies tell their story to the public and succeed as a business through that message.”

46) “Help transit agencies communicate to the public.”

47) “I tell my company’s story.”

48) “My work helps position our city as a great place to live and locate a business.”

49) “I help business people communicate better so they can be more successful in good times and bad times.”

50) “I make sure my colleagues have the right information at the right time to do their jobs better.”

51) “My team tells the stories of how my state government agency protects us and our environment.”

52) “I connect the media to the story.”

53) “We tell stories that help people understand how we help other companies work more effectively.”

54) “I tell stories for my company.”

55) “I help my company achieve its goals by telling our story to the public.”

56) “I help people learn about my company, its products and services through newspapers, magazines, and online including social media.”

57) “Change consultant.”

58) “I help people and companies tell who they are and why they do what they do to as many as they can reach.”

59) “I help people communicate better.”

60) “I share information with reporters to answer their questions, assist in their research and position my clients as experts in their fields.”

61) “I talk about the good things our products do for warfighters.”

[Note: “warfighter” is DoD parlance for communicating how strategy, policy and programs affect those in the field implementing that idea.]

62) “I persuade people to want to know more about my company.”

63) “I am a storyteller.”

64) “I do strategic communications for college sports, including the research needed to inform our efforts and the TV ads that help educate people about what we care about.”

65) “You know the political ads that say this ad was paid for by friends of __________. I’m their best friend! I also tell audiences all the great political wins my organization has across the US at the federal, state and local levels.”

66) “Market the business.”

67) “I’m a storyteller.”

68) “I talk to people and try to make new things happen.”

69) “I communicate an accurate message to the appropriate audience in a cost-effective manner for my clients.”

70) “Tell stories about a nonprofit organization and those it serves.”

71) “I make sure our communications to employees are clear and that employees know what they need to know or do.”

72) “Write, edit, and distribute.”

73) “I help the organization communicate more effectively to various audiences and tell its story.”

74) “I am a content editor, which means I write for and edit content from our subject matter experts.”

75) “I tell stories and try to get our name in the news in a positive way.”

76) I write and edit articles that get consumers to understand why our brand is better than others.”

77) “I build mutually beneficial relationships with people and organizations that help us do our job and explain our organization’s actions and plans to the public.”

78) “I make people and companies look good.”

79) “I inform people with facts that are not biased by media.”

80) “I help organizations tell their stories, so people know what they have to offer.”

81) “I work with the news media and do newsletters for employees.”

82) “Messaging and image crafting.”

83) “I write newsletters for people to read. I talk with reporters at newspapers and other news outlets to convince them to write a story about my company.”

84) “I help our employees around the world understand what’s going on at our company, make them proud to work here, and inspire them to get better at what they do.”

85) “I help connect the dots to our company’s larger strategy and cultivate strong partnerships with media to spread the word about the work we’re doing.”

86) “I develop strategic plans to help my organization achieve its goals and objectives.”

87) “I promote people, policies and work by my organization to show the general public and policymakers how we contribute to the quality of life in the city.”

88) “Get people talking favorably about my client.”

89) “I help my company connect with key stakeholders.”

90) “I work with the press to engage and influence them to learn and write about my company.

91) “I tell stories about my organization, a state agency so that the public knows about our services.”

92) “I write things to post on the internet.”

93) “Help organizations raise their visibility.”

94) “Tell the story about the importance of transportation to the public and the state’s economy.

95) “I share important information about my company’s medicines in a simple way.”

96) “Manage the marketing for the organization.”

97) “Creating positive images with the media, government officials and the public.”

98) “I help the media understand what the company I work for does and provide information when they ask questions.”

99) “I help employees and leaders communicate with each other so that everyone knows what’s happening and why and works together well to reach our goals.”

100) “I help members understand how membership benefits them and helps them grow in their job.”

101) “Explain complicated things as simply as possible.”

102) “Making companies and executives look smart.”

103) “I help keep employees informed about what’s happening with the company, why they should care and how their role contributes to the organization’s success.”

104) “I help tell our organization’s story in easily digestible, entertaining and informative ways to help foster the public’s trust.”

105) “I help organizations, businesses, communities communicate better.”

106) “I promote the research, education and service efforts of the UT Austin School of Nursing through creating and maintaining compelling stories and information via print and online publications.”

107) “Prepare and send messages to people we want to influence.”

108) “I help influence how various internal and external groups view the organizations I work for, as well as their leaders and products.”

109) “I help people understand what is happening in our company and what role they play in the company’s overall success.”

110) “I explain, define and communicate the activities of a trade association to its members.”

111) “Spreading the word.”

112) “I help people understand how a company can help them in living their lives.”

113) “I try to get people to pay attention (yelled very loud).”

114) “I help the public know about how important the work my government agency does to keep our country safe from bad people on the internet.”

115) “Advertising.”

116) “I try to tell a company’s story to reporters.”

117) “I help my company gain positive news coverage.”

118) “Email for a living.”

119) “I help journalists with story ideas that you see in the news. I help business executives learn more about their prospects and to earn new business.”

120) “Tell employees what they need to know.”

121) “A lot of writing and helping companies appear in the news.”

122) “I work to tell the story of my company to as many people as possible.”

123) “I am a storyteller who makes people care about things they didn’t know they should even pay attention to.”

124) “I get people on TV.”

125) “I managed the public profile of my company and my leadership team in all outlets.”

126) “I promote products, programs and priorities.”

127) “I promote my company’s tools to scientists to help them with their research.”

128) “I help our customers and potential customers gain awareness and understanding of our company and offerings.”

129) “Communicate research findings.”

130) “Try to make all the kiddies play nice in the sandbox – without the ability to send the bad ones to time out.”

131) “I make sure that doctors and scientists know about the research we publish so they can help their patients.”

132) “I help our leaders talk to our employees about our company by sharing stories about what we are doing, what’s changing in our business and where are headed, by recognizing employees and celebrating our successes.”

133) “You know that segment you just watched – I worked with the producers to get my client on TV.”

134) I am paid to keep and reveal secrets to employees, the public and the media at the appropriate time.”

135) “Speechwriter.”

136) “Tell stories to radio and TV reporters so they understand what we do.”

137) “Help companies keep their stories straight and get their acts together.”

138) “I develop and implement internal communications strategies and products for my division.”

139) “I use marketing and advertising tactics to encourage people to make better decisions about their health, e.g., stop smoking.”

140) “I translate actuary-speak into English and then explain to the world why what actuaries do is relevant to them.”

141) “Tell my organization’s story.”

* * *

Here are a few more I’ve written pieces stemming from the survey – and the full report is embedded below. These posts and those from the previous year’s survey can all be found neatly organized under the JOTW tag.


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Image credit: Unsplash

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