Public Relations is one of those careers that you constantly hear about and see on TV. Characters’ in your favorite shows have careers in PR (Think Samantha Jones in Sex and the City or Olivia Pope in Scandal), but viewers only get a vague idea of what the occupation really is. So the question that remains — what is public relations?

A reason that PR can be so difficult to define is that there are many aspects that fall within the field. Think of the spokesperson who communicated with the public after the BP oil spill; the Share a Coke campaign by Coca-Cola; big events hosted by brands like Samsung, Absolut Vodka, Nike, etc. All of those examples fit under the umbrella of PR.

According to the Public Relations Society of America, PR is defined as a strategic communication process that builds mutually beneficial relationships between organizations and their publics.

But what does that definition actually mean, and why should businesses care?

“Public relations has transformed drastically, thanks to the digital age.” Doug Winegardner, founder of Radius said. “What was once traditional, one-way public relations messaging has been replaced with true conversations between the brand and the consumer, designed to provide value and give the brand a soul.”

Now that technology has given consumers more points to access and interact with a brand, we must work to make sure that brands and clients are being represented in the best way possible. This is done by producing innovative content that delivers value to the consumer, building genuine relationships with the audience and responding to issues quickly and swiftly.

There are a wide variety of tools in a PR professional’s toolkit. When you see resources like these, know that they fall under the modern PR action list:

  • Press releases
  • Media kits & pitches
  • Speeches
  • Launch parties or charitable events
  • Content marketing (blogs, resource guides, etc)
  • Social media content
  • Live streaming events (Periscope, Facebook Live, Snapchat)

Successful PR campaigns have the power to change public opinion; contribute to the accomplishments of an organization, nonprofit or new release; and the skill to influence the world through a brand’s message.

We hope this article has given you a better understanding of what it takes to manage and succeed at public relations for your brand. While it can be incredibly hard to fully explain a career in 500 words, we hope you take away the following: PR professionals and agencies are there to be the voice and soul of a brand. We are the power behind the moments when brand and consumer connect.