I think it’s safe to say that the general public does not quite understand what PR really is, how it’s different from marketing/advertising, and what it means to “do PR” in today’s day and age. Younger people might have an inkling; they are exposed to PR content all over the web. Good PR is supposed to be undetectable, but I’m sure they pick up on some of the more poorly crafted/delivered messages. And then there’s media portrayals of PR. Many firms’ CEOs have told me that a lot of young women get themselves a job in PR after watching how “cool” it looks on Sex and the City. Then they quit after realizing that working in PR is nothing at all like living Samantha’s life. (I’ve never watched the show, but I can imagine the portrayal.)
The biggest thing I’ve learned in the past few days is the lesser known truth about what makes PR such a demanding job. What happens behind the scenes (and almost everything in PR happens behind the scenes) is more human and honest than any outsider might imagine. As a PR professional in the creative function, you are expected to create/distribute/promote content that captures people’s attention, engages them in conversation, and makes a big enough impression on them to be shared and remembered. Only content that resonates on a human level can achieve this, and only people that truly love to connect with others can create that kind of content, as far as I can tell.