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How to Separate the PR Pros from the Posers

Ask the Expert

Editor's Note: Entrepreneur's Ask the Expert column seeks to answer questions about everything from starting a business to growing one. To follow the column on Twitter -- and ask a question -- use hashtag #ENTexpert, or leave a comment below. Your query may be the inspiration for a future column.

How to Separate the PR Pros from the Posers
Image credit: tagueule.ca

Q: As the role of PR is constantly changing, what does the current job description entail and what should I look for when hiring?

-Abdulla Salih
Stoke-on-Trent, UK

A: The role of public relation professionals has changed over the years. That image of champagne-sipping PR social butterflies of the '80s and '90s has largely faded, driven out by the growth of digital and social media, the pressure of an evolving media landscape and competition from other marketing disciplines.

While years ago PR and other marketing or advertising disciplines were separate, today the boundaries are blurring.

That said, where PR has stood out over time and retains its lead position is in crafting compelling stories that articulate what a company wants to say in the most interesting way for the target audience. 

What’s changed is that we’re not just utilizing traditional media. We are also turning to social media platforms including blogs, Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and Instagram to get the message across.

While the channels and applications of PR people has changed, what hasn’t is what makes a great PR person and why one might be useful for you.The core skill, or what we do, is two-fold. As I mentioned above, PR people need to be able to explain quickly and simply what your company does in a compelling way to your audience. Secondly, they have to develop a strategy to launch and build that story in the way that will have the biggest impact for a client.

If you’re looking to work with a PR person, I would recommend you understand what they do and assess whether it’s the right move for you using the following criteria:

Make sure they understand your company or product and can articulate what it does in a compelling, exciting way. 

Determine if they are just selling you what they can do or if they have really thought about where PR can have the biggest impact for you. One way to decide if they are a good fit is to assess your PR needs and see if they agree with you.

Inquire about their approach to generating coverage and opportunities for you to be covered. Does their strategy sound like it will work?

Ask them what they will do if the campaign doesn’t work like they expect. It is better to address this up front than after something has gone wrong.

What other tips do you have for determing if someone is a PR pro? Let us know in the comments below.

Ivan Ristic is President and co-founder of Diffusion, a communications agency with offices in New York and London. 

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