The industry of Public Relations is one that I still struggle to explain to anyone when they ask where my degree will actually get me in life.
So the way in which I describe it to others is to tell them what PR means to me.
What PR means to me…
Public relations is having growing media representation within today’s society, whether that’s through online brand content or on the streets of your nearest city, public relations comes in many forms and is all around us, yet not may actually know what it is.
It is becoming extremely important for organisations to have a PR strategy in place, in order to get their brand out there and increase the reputation within the industry and to their publics.
Producing a single definition of PR, to me, is impossible, there are many different interpretations of PR and so many different definitions by different organisations.
There are two top public relations organisations within the UK, the CIPR and PRCA, and even they define public relations differently.
The definition that sticks with me is the CIPR definition, as it states that public relations is about an organisations reputation, and is ‘a result of what you do, what you say and what others say about you’.
The first time I had heard of the term Public Relations was when I was finishing my A-levels and discovered a local girl from my area who was studying a business and PR course at university and had created a blog where she discussed all things PR related. Through reading her blogs I realised that, while I had no clue what she was talking about, the topics she was discussing really intrigued me. That girl was Orlagh Shanks, now the UK’s top PR blogger for 2018 and 2019.
I then decided, (after a rejected nursing application) that I was going to apply for the Communication Management and Public Relations course at Ulster University. Even though, at this stage, I didn’t know much about public relations or what it was, or even what kind of job it would get me, I just knew that I really enjoyed reading PR related content, and that was enough for me to apply.
To this day I am thankful for that rejected nursing application, as I have been really enjoying my course at university.
One of the main reasons a career in PR interests me is that it allows you to be creative.
‘In the UK, public relations practitioners work in an industry with millions of pounds spent by organisations and clients to pay them to be creative and practise creativity’ (Green, A. 2010).
A job in public relations would allow you to express and show your creative mind through the development of PR strategies and campaigns. This is an aspect of mu university course that I have thoroughly enjoyed. Developing a PR strategy or campaign is exciting, it allows me to express my ideas and come up with innovative concepts to make a brand stand out and gain engagement, which in turn will benefit the organisation as it will influence a positive opinion of the brand. I have always had an interest in writing and producing online content, which is why I developed my own blog two years ago – https://siobhanmckerr.blogspot.com/. This interest will benefit me within my career in PR as it will assist me when writing press releases for organisations to be used by journalists and other media.
Public relations is an industry that is very fast paced, things change all the time, which for me is exciting. I have always viewed a job in PR as ‘fun’, and something I would love doing everyday, which would make me feel more motivated within my job. A day working in PR would never be the same as the last, the world of PR is constantly developing, things happen everyday that involve the use of PR, in news, media and online.
Social media as a tool
Another aspect of a job within PR is the use of social media. Social media can be used as a tool, whether it be to improve an organisations reputation or to grow their publics in order to gain customers, if social media is done right it can achieve all of these things.
Social media is something that I enjoy on a regular basis like most of us, however, through the development of my blog, I have also been able to see the side of social media that can be used as a tool for businesses. I often find myself looking up local businesses on social media sites, whether that be to see a menu or to see their latest promotional offers, and often I end up thinking to myself about the ways that the local businesses could improve on their social media sites in order to gain more engagement and traffic to their site and promote their business further.
Running an organisation’s social media sites would be something I would really enjoy, I would love to be involved in raising a brands awareness online and creating more engagement and watch this all improve on analytic sites. This is something I would thrive on, and I also believe, do well.
A degree in Public relations can take you down many different paths and can allow you to work within many different sectors of the industry, whether that be within the voluntary, public service or private sectors, or in-house vs agency.
Right know the path that interests me the most is Influencer Marketing. I want to learn more about the process of influencer marketing, such as why people online are so influential to consumers through the use of sponsored content. I would also love to learn more about how businesses and organisations work with influencers to promote their brands and become more successful online.
While this is a stem off the idea of a career solely in public relations, I feel that a job in influencer marketing would also incorporate PR as it involves working with publics and forming relationships in order to improve an organisations reputation. I hope to be able to explore many different paths within the PR industry as this would open many doors for me as a PR professional and would enable me to gain overall insight into the industry. This would also encourage me to stay motivated and inspired within my career.
Having a job where the work you do actually is important and means something will help you to feel respected and valued within the organisation you are working for. Everyone needs PR, so everyone needs your ideas and creative mind to ensure the reputation of their business stays at a high standard. At some stage, every organisation will need some sort of content creation, promotional content, crisis management or an entirely new PR strategy, meaning that as a PR professional, you will always be valued and have meaning. This is something that is important to me when discussing a career, as feeling valued within the work place will enable you to work to the best of your ability with the team around you. This will also ensure a healthy and exciting workplace.
For me, when a think of a PR professional, I think of success. We all want to be successful and this is something I see as achievable when I think of a career in Public Relations. It offers the opportunity to progress within your career through the possibility of promotion, starting as a PR assistant and working your way up to a PR manager or even director. This means that within the PR sector there is always the opportunity for improvement and also for learning throughout your career, which is important to me as it reduces the likeliness of hitting a dead end with your career and will help to keep me motivated throughout and in return will hopefully enable a lot of success within my future career plan.
Siobhan McKerr is a final year BSc in Communication Management & Public Relations student at Ulster University. She can be found on: Twitter – @Siobhan_mckerr, LinkedIn: www.linkedin.com/in/siobhan-mckerr and Instagram: @Siobhan_mckerr.