"What do you do?" Defining the undefinable career in Public Relations

By Matter

I have come to terms with the fact that my parents will never be able to confidently explain to their friends just what it is that I do. The conversations often go something along the lines of:

“She works in PR.”
“Oh, what’s that?”
“It’s something like advertising.”

It’s okay Mom and Dad, I still love you.

I’ve been having this conversation with clients a lot lately. In asking them “how do you describe what you do to your family and friends,” most reply with a defeated “they don’t get it.” It’s much the same with us PR folk. The truth of the Matter is, even us practitioners have trouble describing exactly what we do. We “work in PR” but what does that encompass? We are media mavens, creative writers, even more creative thinkers, event planners, cheerleaders, and most of all advocates. Advocates for understanding and creating public understanding of the wide array of clients on our roster.

The irony in our predicament is that while we may struggle in an elevator or a bar to explain what we do, we have built the foundation of our careers on perfecting our ability to do just that for our clients. If you look at our client roster you’ll note that we there are some brilliantly complicated brands on there, brands that without our assistance have often struggled with that same question.

So while many still struggle to answer that age-old question, here are the top three things I believe we do (and do very well here at Matter) in PR:

We tell stories: Not only do we tell stories, but we find the stories within the stories to tell. We exist to bring our clients into focus in a crowded world by shining a light on what makes them unique (and awesome, in our opinion).

We engage: PR is a profession of constant communication. Communications with our clients, with the media, with our colleagues, and with the public. We love it. What better way to learn a story to tell than by getting it right from the source?

We dig deep: We are a breed of people built to immerse ourselves in learning as much as we can about the brands we represent and then weave it into our DNA. On top of that, we are balancing current events, industry trends, deadlines, holidays, and personal schedules to ensure we’re communicating with the media and the public most effectively.

Basically, what we “do” in PR is… we do it all. What do you do?