Blogs  / August 23, 2017

The 20 Responsibilities of PR and What They Entail

by Sharam Fouladgar-Mercer

Most of us see what our jobs entail at the point of hire. Our job descriptions tells us what we’ll be responsible for in a given public relations or communications role, but we rarely reference the J.D. later as our roles evolve.

This “PR scope creep” is partly due to ambition (hopefully) and partly due to the fact that the digital world in which we work is ever-expanding in nature — there’s always something new to learn and experiment with, especially in PR.

For the sake of creating a comprehensive list of all the tasks today’s PR and communications teams are responsible for, we’ve compiled a list of 20 responsibilities or areas of focus.

See how many fall under your current role or save this list of PR responsibilities for the next time you’re updating your or a report’s job description. If you oversee a team of PR strategists, simply give them a hug. Even if their specific roles don’t encompass all of these skills, they are responsible for exponentially more than they were a decade ago.

1. Earned Media/Media Relations

Far from just managing a digital Rolodex, landing earned media in publications that resonate with target audiences is only one small part of the earned-media mix. Relationship building takes time. The PR pro sends thoughtful, data-backed pitches, engages with reporters on social media, sends swag (when appropriate), maintains relevant media lists, and manages all follow-through with reporters and journalists.

2. Owned Media/Content Strategy

The flipside of earned media is owned media: publishing content on brand-owned channels such as a customer-facing blog, Medium publication, and the like. The PR pro either writes some of this content themselves or helps drive strategy with a team of writers/editors and/or guest blog contributors.

3. Media Monitoring & Analysis

Once PR-driven content hits or publishes, media monitoring and analysis of that work kicks in. Instituting a PRTech tool that can help with media monitoring is vital for today’s PR pros who want to be able to quickly draw insights about what’s working and fold those findings back into their workflow.

AirPR offers a media monitoring solution. For more info, email info@airpr.com.

4. Corporate Communications

Corporate communicators regularly work with stakeholders across the organization to develop and distribute pertinent info to employees and key affiliates. They leverage various channels including email, intranets, Slack, and so forth, to ensure their messages reach the right audiences. Corporate communications regularly involves interaction with senior leaders and HR departments. 

5. Messaging & Positioning

A subset of corporate communications work, developing, documenting, and disseminating overarching corporate messaging is key to building a strong brand with a consistent message.

Depending on the stage of the business, communications professionals are often tasked with creating messaging cards and positioning statements for the companies they represent. It’s also common for specialized agencies to be hired on a project basis for repositioning or when market research is required.

6. Internal Communications

Internal communications, which also falls under corporate communications, is more nuanced than simply casting out an email. Internal communicators must be savvy enough to turn dry content like company policies into info employees actually want to read. Measuring the effectiveness of internal communications is an interesting PR problem that Mary Lou Panzano, vice president and head of U.S. communications for Bayer Corporation, explains more in this Forbes article outlining internal communications best practices.

7. Media Training

Particularly time consuming for PR people at startups who must train a quickly growing number of C-Suite executives and first-time founders, media training is a must for anyone who will be in contact with the press. The PR pro may media train spokespeople themselves or hire an outside agency or consultant to lead a one-time session.

8. Executive Thought Leadership

Today’s PR pro is responsible for ideating, writing/editing, pitching, placing, and then promoting executive thought leadership articles for not only the CEO, but also other senior executives. Small teams of writer/editors are often hired to help the PR pro scale thought leadership efforts.

9. Writing/Editing of Miscellaneous PR Assets

Beyond content creation comes writing and editing of any other PR asset that touches the light of day, a.k.a. the eyes of customers or journalists. This includes writing and editing informational one-sheeters about new products or launches, case studies, event descriptions and signage, multimedia-rich press releases, and more.

10. Crisis Communications

If this year’s PR boo-boos didn’t show us the importance of having crisis communications strategies in place, we’re not sure what will. Reputation management and crisis communications are not an airbag that goes off when something bad happens; they are a seatbelt your brand should always wear. 

11. Reporting

Today’s PR professionals report PR results to their executive leaders (a given), but they are now responsible for sharing that information cross-functionally, too, in order to spur more regular intel-sharing. AirPR’s PR Intelligence Manager, Scott Santore, wrote a blog post about how sales teams and PR teams can benefit from more cross-team collaboration.

12. Iterative PR Measurement

Reporting on established metrics isn’t enough today. C-suite leaders expect today’s PR professional to iterate on the PR metrics they use based on the goals of each campaign. Give yourself a crash-course in PR measurement here or email info@airpr.com for more information on how we can help you measure your PR efforts.

13. Speaking Engagements

Niche industry events, role-specific conferences (catered to developers, creatives, etc.), and big-kahuna conferences such as SXSW give brands ample opportunity to showcase the learnings of their strongest business leaders. Beyond vetting and landing those opportunities, the PR professional is also responsible for leading the creation of accompanying presentation decks and talking points.

14. Multimedia Development & Visual Storytelling

While video and multimedia production is sometimes managed by creative teams or outsourced to boutique agencies specializing in visual storytelling, today’s PR teams are expected to have a baseline understanding of how to storyboard video content or write a creative brief requesting visual assets tied to their campaigns.

15. Event & Experiential Marketing

Hosting your own events – think Casper’s pop-up Snooze Bars or Stay Inn faux-tels – or sponsoring booths at industry-specific conferences can fill a PR plate rather quickly. Check out our list of the best PR conferences to attend in 2017. (Let us know if we’ve missed any!)  

16. Influencer Marketing & Blogger Relations  

Whether managing influencer sponsorships or engaging with an unpaid network of organic brand advocates, influencer marketing and blogger relations are increasingly important as self-publishing continues to expand and evolve. Some PR pros manage this in house, while others leverage the expertise of specialized influencer marketing agencies.

17. Social Media & Community Management

Depending on where you work, social media and community management can live on PR/communications teams or creative/marketing teams. The community management piece also entails social monitoring and responding to customer inquiries, an extension of customers service, which of course ladders back to the PR keystone of reputation management. Whether or not a PR pro’s role includes this responsibility varies greatly per size of organization. 

18. Managing PR Agencies

The in-house PR professional can wear a myriad of management hats, often juggling freelance content creators, graphic designers, specialized communications consultants, and PR agencies. For big, global brands, this may include managing multiple PR agencies responsible for earned media and opportunities in different regions across the globe.

19. Data Journalism

Data journalism entails gathering internally bred data and turning that information into marketable stories, may they be earned media pitches or brand-published content. Today’s PR pro is expected to be able to work hand-in-hand with a data scientist to transform data points into content that will pique interest with prospective customers or entice journalists to ask for more.

20. Trend Spotting

PR pros have always had their finger on the pulse of what’s trending in the media. But now, they are also expected to trend spot before niche stories break, ensuring that their companies get ahead of the curve before a news topic skyrockets. Astute social listening and leveraging the power of PRTech software that allows you to discover and study trends can help in accomplishing this.

Have we missed any PR responsibilities? Comment below to add onto our list.