5 underappreciated aspects of public relations

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It’s easy to get lost in the day-to-day grind and forget why we first got into this business. 

Sometimes it helps to step back and look at some of the best things about what we do, and what separates our industry from the rest. Here are my top five things I love about public relations that many people forget about: 

1. We get to work with language. 

I love language and the study of it, so this is one of my favorite aspects of the job that I’m not sure many really appreciate. As PR pros, we’re writers, too; grammar and spelling are very important, we have to know how to tell a story, and knowing how words can affect people is crucial. 

Also, PR pros have coined interesting terms. Coming up with just the right words to describe something can be tricky, and using provocative imagery will often cement the idea in the public’s head. Think of the connotations swirling around a controversial term like “pro-life.” You know someone with a PR mind came up with that term. 

2. You get to dabble in psychology. 

Another enormously important aspect of what we do involves the psychology of the average person. To really sell a product, service, or idea to someone, you have to understand what makes him or her tick. Understanding how different people react to situations can help you become a highly successful PR pro. 

I believe it’s underappreciated because a lot of us in public relations don’t want to think we’re manipulating people. I don’t really see it as manipulation, but rather that we’re using people’s psychological traits to our advantage (if we’re doing it right, anyway). What we should not be doing is participating in propaganda or fear programs. 

3. You get to meet people. 

Whether you like people or not, you still have to admit the wide variety of folks you meet in this job is unique. Besides our fellow PR pros—who come in their own crazy array of personalities—the clients also come in all shapes and sizes. I’m constantly amused by incredibly masculine shop owners who live for selling scrapbooking supplies, or the tiniest old lady who sells violent horror movies. You see that people absolutely do not fall into the molds the world has set for them. 

4. You follow the flow of change. 

Watching the world change is another perk. Whereas some people casually watch the news, we study it with a keen eye. 

Looking out for the next big thing or trying to gauge the world’s mental state is part of the job and can become a game. If you’re left behind in world affairs it’s very difficult to do your job, as you could miss a vital change and misdirect your PR campaign. 

5. You get to change the world. 

Ok, maybe that’s a bit dramatic, but with our adoption of technology and forward-thinking strategies, we public relations pros can help influence the future. 

We have the potential to make a difference when it comes to humanity as well. Using public relations for the greater good—and following Google’s motto of “Don’t be evil” —could only elevate our status in the public eye from “dirty propagandists” to “beautiful philanthropists.” 

What’s your favorite aspect of being a PR pro?