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Insta vs reality: what is working in PR really like?

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Author: Beth Rees

The difference between social media and real life is a hot topic at the moment, and it’s become all too clear that the sunny snaps we present online don’t always represent the full picture of our lives. We’re not here to talk about makeup filters or unrealistic holiday snaps, though – instead, let’s look at the nine to five.

Work achievements are a social media mainstay. We’ve all seen those gushing LinkedIn posts – the ones announcing new partnerships, impressive results and industry insights. On the PR side, we often see posts boasting about lavish events, great coverage and happy clients. But is PR really like that day to day?

Here at Front Door, being honest and transparent has always been a priority. So, we thought we’d cut through the social media static and give you a true, unfiltered look at what it means to be in PR.

What does a PR job involve?

Being a publicist involves a few different skills, as day-to-day you’ll be brainstorming stories, writing great content, and trying to send them to all the best people. When you think of a PR job you might picture glitzy events and long lunches, but while networking is an important aspect of the job, it’s certainly not the only one. The nitty gritty of a PR job is generally more about editing and re-editing press releases, waiting for signoff, and bracing yourself for a lot of journalist rejections.

Getting great coverage for your clients – or your business – is the ultimate goal really, and it makes all the hard work worthwhile.

How do you create newsworthy PR stories?

There are a few different ways a good publicist will come up with stories for the press. Sometimes a flash of inspiration will hit – maybe after reading a bit of topical news, or getting an interesting update from a client – but more often than not it takes a bit of brainstorming.

At Front Door, we typically offer up a mix of proactive and reactive pieces – we will share ideas and plan ahead, as well as obsessively watching the news for any stories we can jump on and add value to. Being tuned-in to the news is a must for anyone in PR, and though it’s time consuming, it can really pay off.

Do all PR campaigns get loads of coverage?

Whether or not your story gets picked up depends on so many factors – including the timing, topicality, and what else is in the news when your press release goes out. Getting any of these factors even slightly wrong could mean that however great your story is, it doesn’t get the links and coverage you want. Often this is out of your control, as big news can hit fast and completely take over – as it will do, for instance, when King Charles’ coronation takes place this summer.

It’s natural for there to be hits and misses in PR, so don’t believe the non-stop positivity you see on LinkedIn – 100+ links for a campaign is definitely the exception, not the rule! However, stories that flop can often be re-worked and re-released, and may perform completely differently the second time around. The difference a new headline, a different quote or just a later release date can make is huge.

Are the events as glamorous as they look?

We’ve been lucky enough to have some unforgettable days out of the office with our PR hats on – from the Green Man Festival to nights out in London. And while attending events is always a highlight, managing PR at an event is incredibly full-on – with lots of less-than-glamorous aspects behind the scenes.

From the blisters you get from being on your feet non-stop, to the exhaustion of starting at the crack of dawn and finishing late at night, event PR is as demanding as it is rewarding.

Do you have to be pushy as a PR?

Being overly pushy and chasing journalists too often can actually work against you as a PR. People often have a misconception of publicists as pursuing coverage relentlessly and never taking no for an answer, but maintaining good relationships with key people in the media industry is really the key.

We try to anticipate journalists’ needs and pay attention to their interests – that way, we can send the important information in one succinct email, and have the best chance of a positive response.

Is it true work/life balance is non-existent for PRs?

Flexibility is key in the PR industry. Alongside our quiet days, this could mean occasionally picking something up after 5pm on a Friday, or spending an extra-long day managing an event.

But while it’s true that PRs have to be available when a big story or a crisis hits, the work doesn’t have to take over. Even at a busy agency like Front Door, it’s rare that we lose our precious down-time.

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