Public relations encompasses the pursuit of a positive reputation and public opinion for a business, as well as the controlled release of news. There are many different roles available for those interested in public relations. In this post, we will discuss several of them and the role of online PR. Public relations encompasses the pursuit of a positive reputation and public opinion for a business, as well as the controlled release of news. There are many different roles available for those interested in public relations. In this post, we will discuss several of them and the role of online PR.
Common Public Relations Jobs
Public relations officer – A public relations officer is a general public relations professional. Their job is to gain information about clients, as well as influencing public opinion. You’ll be liaising with journalists and representatives from all forms of media and you’ll be expected to fulfil a wide range of different roles: from writing press releases, to answering journalist’s questions, to arranging conferences and events. They might also have close ties with the marketing department to help consider what the PR consequences of a
Chief communications officer – Sometimes referred to as a CCO, this is the head of ‘communications’. Communications is an aspect of public relations which deals specifically with communications between the company or brand and its interests. This might include: journalists, bloggers, shareholders, influential members of the business community and others. They will help to formulate a communications plan.
Press Officer – Your role might be even more specific and involve communicating with the press only. Working in a company’s press office, you will be responsible for releasing news, handling questions and talking with journalists. Networking and forming good relationships is an important part of this job.
There are many other roles within a general public relations organization or department, ranging from administrative roles, accounts managers, sales representatives (for selling the services of the PR firm) and more.
Today, more and more of public relations is handled online and here we see a line blur between PR and online reputation management. Thus, another public relations position might be one to deal specifically with online reputation management and digital marketing.
For example, your job might be to respond to negative comments and reviews that have been made online about the business in question. How do you respond if you have lots of negative reviews?
Of course the answer is that you’re now going to respond to those comments to put forward your side of the story. There is definitely a correct and incorrect way to go about this though, so make sure that when you respond, you do so in a manner that isn’t overly defensive and is entirely positive.
The mistake that some people make is to try and discredit the person who has left the bad review, by sending an aggressive/unpleasant response that attempts to make out the problem was their fault and not yours – or that they don’t know what they’re talking about.
This might seem like a good strategy but it can have two unintended effects:
- It creates an enemy of the original reviewer who will feel they haven’t been listened to. They might respond by doubling their efforts or with a rebuttal that you’ll then be forced to respond to again – wasting time and making you appear petty.
- It makes you appear unsympathetic, impatient and unhelpful. Other people reading the discussion will now be led to ask: is this how they’re respond to me when I have a problem?
Of course you can point out where the reviewer has made a mistake, or where they may have unrealistic expectations in a polite manner. Moreover though, you should thank them for their ‘honest feedback’, apologise to them for failing to meet their expectations and most importantly, be seen to provide some sort of compensation. Also important is to show how you have learned from the experience and what you are going to do to ensure that other users don’t suffer the same problems.
When to Respond
Just as you shouldn’t be overly defensive or aggressive when you are responding to comments, it’s also very important that you know when not to respond. If you have a big corporate image, then joining in in discussions in forums and chiming in every time someone mentions you is only going to make you look invasive and controlling.
Another tip is to resist the temptation to set up fake accounts. Posting as a ‘thoughtful user who had a great experience’ might seem like a good way to make your company look better but you’d be surprised how easily this can be seen through. If your account is new, if what you’re saying is a little too good to be true, or if you respond a little too quickly; people can smell a rat. When that happens, you risk completely destroying your reputation and this isn’t a risk worth taking. Be vigilant, use the best tools but at the same time, make sure that you play fair.
One More Tip…
And one more tip? Make sure that you aren’t only responding to negative comments. Responding to positive comments is just as useful, as it draws more attention to what’s being said and gives you a great opportunity to build on someone’s good experience. If someone Tweets and says ‘I just enjoyed an amazing meal at X-restaurant’, this is a great opportunity to chime in and to say ‘thanks for dining with us and we hope to see you again soon!’.
SEO for ORM
SEO is also important for online reputation management. Here, the job of the professional may be to increase the online visibility of a website so that it will rank at the top of Google. If there is a bad review of a company online, then getting the company’s official website to rank at the top of the searches can help to make this harder to discover.
Running a company blog can also be a good way to manage online reputation management.
Positions within a PR company can vary then, depending on the nature of the services provided. You might hold a traditional communications position and be tasked largely with communicating with the press, or you might be in charge of running a company blog. Depending on the size of the company you might hold other roles or might even blur the line with broader marketing positions.