The 8 Types of PR Pros
There are many different types of PR people. However, the type of PR person you choose to be will likely shift throughout your career. Your role within PR may change, the industry you’re representing may change, your entire job description may change — pulling you away from the everyday work of PR. But no matter what you do, the PR mindset will always be with you. Here is my list of some of the most popular PR roles:
Media Relations, aka the Publicist:
This is the classic, stereotypical PR role, often what people think of when referring to public relations. They organize red carpets or make sure their clients are on them, often attending impressive events and being in the spotlight in the PR way — off to the side, behind the client who is the star. Publicists get things placed in the media, creating buzz, most often of the consumer variety. They don’t always have to work in the red carpet arena, but they spend their days building the most amount of public attention as possible.
Investor Relations, aka the Numbers-Pusher:
This position, locked into the financial world, can be mysterious to the uninitiated. The numbers-pusher works for public companies or financial institutions that rely on the opinions of industry analysts. These analysts are essentially the numbers-pusher’s outside spokespeople — their good or bad opinions possibly ending up in the news — ultimately influencing the financial markets, which could mean more, or less, money in shareholders’ pockets. This person manages communications between the company and its investors.
Marketing Communications, aka the B2B’er:
This person promotes businesses among other businesses, most often through trade and vertical press. Their work is much more predictable than the publicist’s but they still can get quite busy depending on how hard they push. They may use the trade show as a way to meet other press and important people within the industries they are trying to influence. Trade shows and surrounding events can get crazy. So remember, what happens in Vegas stays in Vegas.
Community Relations, aka the Do-Gooder:
Community relations is the practice of aligning your organization’s interests with a community group, cause, or charity. This PR pro often leverages their community relations work through earned media, but not always. Some organizations are motivated to connect with their communities on an intimate level for no other reason than to build goodwill, strengthening relationships through activities that sometimes pair with monetary donations. The community relations PR person often interacts with other PR people to support and further events and programs that benefit the community.
Internal Relations, aka the Inside Agent:
When you ask a business owner or executive what’s their biggest asset, cost, and headache, you often get the same answer for all three: employees. Some can be major money-makers for organizations or their only income-generating source. Employees can also be an organization’s megaphone and its best evangelists. The right PR efforts can go a long way in helping with employee satisfaction, engagement, and recruiting.
An internal relations PR pro is not in charge of HR, which handles recruiting, paperwork, benefits, vacations, etc. Instead, they are tasked with the more fun challenge of communicating directly to the employees with distinct purposes like building goodwill, softening changes, or evangelizing employees through tools like internal newsletters and podcasts or private Facebook pages.
The Crisis PR, aka the Fire-Stopper:
The fire-stopper evokes images of high-powered geniuses swooping in and out of problems, arriving mid-disaster to assemble triage. Ideally all PR people work ahead of the crisis, preventing it from occurring in the first place through careful planning, immaculate team integration, and representing organizations that are already doing the right thing. But sometimes someone gets caught with their pants down and it’s the fire-stopper’s job to fix it. Fire-stoppers hold the kind of amazing instinct that only comes from years of experience. They’ve spent their careers trying new things by being open to failure, viewing all mistakes as opportunities to learn, and carefully emulating, or sometimes most importantly not emulating, those that have gone before them.
Account Director, aka the Strategist:
Every PR campaign should be rooted in strategy. There is a difference between reactively opening a SnapChat account just because someone tells you to and asking why first. The strategist’s job centers around planning, thinking, and calculating so that audiences, goals, and the reasoning behind every action is mapped out before launching head-first into any PR campaign.
The SEO PR, aka the Linkbuilder:
PR pros have been using SEO tactics for years. Google has a complicated algorithm that ranks website pages for specific search terms (keywords) and one of the many factors of ranking well is links. While most PR activities may result in a story that is featured and/or shared online, the SEO PR Pro is primarily focused on getting stories and links for the SEO benefits they provide and as a result, driving performance via search.
Of course, this list is only a beginning. I could go on and on with Social/Influencer PR, Public Affairs/Lobbyist, PIO, Researchers and many more. Essentially, most PR Pros are hybrids of a few of these.
Which are you?