I recently attended a soft launch of a product made by one of our clients.
Under these circumstances, no media was present or needed, only the various stakeholders participating directly towards bringing the product to life. This was simply an introduction to the product together with an overview for the benefit of the stakeholders.
As a Public Relations consultant, it is vital to be a part of product development right from the initial stages if we are going to gain an understanding and interpret the client’s needs when communicating about the product to the public. This is very well known in the industry.

So I was quiet surprised when one of the team members from the clients side approached me to clarify if the media was coming. I asked her why? She replied: “Because you are here.”
It probably never occurred to her that it is crucial for the PR team to be present at most clients’ activities, irrespective of whether the media is there or not.
In fact, PR should be part of all activities right from the beginning and finally to the go-to-the market (GTM) phase. But to be fair, it’s not just her alone that is misinformed. There is a misconception out there that PR is only about media relations which certainly is not true!

I can’t even begin to explain how this is extremely frustrating to PR professionals who are constantly lumped into the media category. Any expert will tell you that Public Relations is much more. Consequently we should be taken seriously as an important arm in reaching out to a target audience.
As PR, we are responsible for most of the communication that goes out to the public. We advise on how messaging should be put together because we have mastered the skills, easily know what makes headlines and also understand what the public and stakeholders want to see and hear. We understand how to speak to the public and how to counter misconceptions projected even before communication is executed. We simply exist to make stakeholders understand our clients objectives, but in a simpler language.
To be able to do this however, PR practitioners need to be great strategists and be proactive by anticipating opportunities for our clients. This means one has to be well informed and on top of their game, appreciating the client’s needs and how the different stakeholders can be roped into the stated communication objectives.

We have to be great story-tellers as well, but to do this we have got to have considerable persuasive powers. Without this attribute, our editors or media relationships will definitely be useless. On the other hand, we have got to be accurate while at the same time portraying a positive image through accurate information on behalf of our clients. This is all possible when thinking outside the box, a necessity for PR to be ultimately relevant.
Now amazingly and thankfully, top management in many companies understand the PR concept and even believe that there are numerous ways of reaching audiences beyond just media relations which unfortunately is not always the case for lower management.
It is therefore important for the other members in an organization to understand the PR concept. In this way we can work as teams to represent our clients better.

About the Author: Sharon Kakai

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