PR is… hard to explain


There’s nothing worse than working your way up the career ladder, busting a gut every day, achieving great things, and your parents would rather tell people you work in the Civil Service than even begin to explain what it is you actually do in your 9-5.

The eternal question of what PR is and how it differs from Advertising and Marketing has been answered countless times, in different ways. But my favourite example is that proffered by Deon Binneman a few years ago:

“When the circus comes to town and you put up a sign, that’s advertising.

If you put the sign on the back of an elephant and you march the elephant through town, that’s sales promotion.

If the elephant, still with the sign on his back, tramples through the mayor’s flower garden and the television cameras record and broadcast the event, that’s publicity.

If you can get the mayor to laugh about it, that’s public relations. And if you planned the elephant’s walk, that’s marketing.”

The official dictionary definition is a bit more benign, but still hits pretty close to the mark:

public relations  plural of pub·lic re·la·tions (Noun)


1. The professional maintenance of a favorable public image by an organization or a famous person.

Of course the problem with an industry so misunderstood and a group of professionals who fight daily against the “spin doctor” infamy of those who have come before them, means it is difficult to promote the job to students and mature professionals alike. And yet, if you enjoy a challenge, if you’re creative, passionate and driven, it can be one of the most rewarding things you’ll ever do.

So what is PR and Comms to me?

It is telling a story, giving a personality and meaning to the organisation I work for. Promoting their sunshine and minimising the impact of their storms. Because if an organisation doesn’t write its own narrative, someone else surely will.


  1. […] PRide NI is an annual black tie, red carpet, too-much-alcohol affair that I personally really enjoy. Not just because it’s one of the rare occasions when I get to dress up, eat a nice meal, drink wine and have a boogie (the joys of parenthood) but more so, because I get to see the faces behind the local work, to meet friends old and new and relish in conversations with people who actually understand what I do for a living! […]

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