Sometimes I tell my people I work in marketing; other times I tell them I work in advertising. Ultimately though, I work in Public Relations. I hear these words and job titles thrown around as carelessly as laundry loads, and usually people don’t bat an eye; the average person lumps them all together into some type of communication and media role. So how do I classify these terms? Better yet, what anecdote can I offer to make these modes distinct?
I have a personal experience to share that will define each one for you. This story takes us back to the 90’s, back to when I was a sophomore in high school, back when we still recorded our favorite radio songs on cassette tape, and when we burned cd’s for our crushes. Back to when I was 50 pounds lighter and used to using my mind to win rounds in the ring, versus building communities. I had these two friends that I had gotten to know quite well at my local boxing club. Their names were Johnny and Mike. These two were day and night when it came to approaching girls. My more confident friend, Johnny, was comfortable with a more aggressive marketing approach; he knew how to compliment the girls and how to tell them their eyes are pretty, or that they look good in their outfits, showering them with compliments. This is marketing. When Johnny talks about himself when he shows off his muscles or talks about his recent KO in the boxing ring, then he is advertising because he is making himself look good – he is trying to impress and get their attention.
On the other hand, my other friend Mike was not so aggressive with the women. It’s not that he wasn’t confident in his own rights, it’s just that he needed a bit of assistance. Mike needed some Public Relations help. I remember how one time I had to play as matchmaker to find him a date for homecoming. There was this really sweet and pretty polish girl that was in our class, we had all known each other for years. One day while she was at her locker, I walked up to her and mentioned that my friend Mike thought she was cute. “Mike always talks about how pretty your eyes are” – I was now doing the marketing for Mike. I then talked about how great of a friend Mike was and that I could always depend on him for things and how good of a fighter Mike was. I was now advertising my friends Mike’s qualities, the physical and emotional.
I had begun the work of a Public Relations professional, serving as an advocate for the audience I wanted to communicate with, which in this case was the beautiful polish girl in our class that Mike had a crush on. Mike and Annie were now walking together in the hallways and exchanging notes. As the Public Relations friend, I continued to listen to both of them and nurtured their growing relationship until it was time. Mike and I devised a plan for him to ask her to Homecoming – which is a story for another blog. Ultimately, she agreed and the two had happy ending. But, of course, it wasn’t without a little help from a good friend and responsible advocate.
As a Public Relations professional, this is what I do – I help initiate, foster, and grow relationships between my client and their customers; between the good citizen and their growing community. Having worked for various non-for-profit organizations and studying for a Masters in Rhetoric and Composition has given me the knowledge base and ethics to help your communication goals flourish, and to get through some tough times. Talk with me, I’d be glad to listen and perhaps I can help you get your message and writings out to the reader world.