Who works with the media? Most people immediately think of celebrities’ managers, constantly discussing with the paparazzi and journalists the best way to generate publicity for their precocious young artistes. Aside from them, though, there are companies that specialise in doing just that. They plan social media advertising campaigns, teach companies how to brand themselves through their websites, advise companies on when and how to have roadshows and events, and also find out just where their clients are placed in conversations surrounding their field of business. These are of course the Public Relations companies.
I recently visited one such PR company, known as Waggener Edstrom Worldwide. Their name derives from their 2 founders, whose surnames are Waggener and Edstrom respectively. It was a pretty good experience, I must say. They looked like they had a sociable work environment. It is a mid-sized firm, with about 40 people in 1 office. Waggener Edstrom was formed in response to Microsoft’s need for public relations, back in the 1980’s. Apparently Waggener and Edstrom were friends of Bill Gates and they set up the company just for him. And this company continues to serve Microsoft today!
So what does a typical PR company comprise? Well, there are a few departments to it. The largest department is of course the actual traditional PR staff. Waggener Edstrom handles a few accounts (which to my understanding mean clients). They have categories in healthcare, tech, retail, aerospace, etcetera. So there will be specific groups of people who take on the different categories and handle all accounts in that category. They will have to be in constant communication with their clients, and attend conventions and events on their behalf. Everyday, they’ll also have to find updates in the media that relate to their clients, check Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram, what have you.
Another department is the digital PR wing. These people are the more computer-based ones, the ones who do aggressive marketing on social media sites and also beautify websites for firms.
A third department is Marketing, because the PR company itself needs a dedicated wing to market itself to potential clients too.
A fourth department is something very interesting, known as Insights & Analytics. These are the statistics people who compile evidence to back up PR arguments. If PR agents say that a certain tactic is a good tactic to draw public attention, sometimes they need statistics from the public to back up their gut feeling.
As a PR agent, you’re not expected to go home early everyday. There are times when one must be prepared to stay up late. After all, it says on the internet that a PR executive is one of the top 5 most stressful jobs in 2013. Just for your information, the other 4 jobs are military commander, fireman, pilot and policeman. The PR executive is particularly stressful because he must always be in the public eye, and also because so many university graduates are eyeing this position that job stability is not one of its advantages. There will always be intense competition.
But boredom is not one of its disadvantages either! There should always be a challenge lurking behind every corner for PR executives.