What is Public Relations?


LinkedIn named public relations one of the “10 Most Misunderstood Jobs,” with PR coming in at No. 8. According to the study, 42% of parents with kids in PR management jobs said they couldn’t confidently describe what their son or daughter does for a living. Social Media Manager, a role many PR pros also take on, is No. 3 on LinkedIn’s list, with the parents of 59% of people with that job saying they couldn’t describe it.

The results of a Google image search for “Public Relations” are pretty confusing as well. You’ll see lots of images and diagrams filled with words like “sharing,” “audience,” “social media” and “communication,” and the occasional stock photo of microphones set on a lectern – none of which help actually explain what PR is.

Why is it so hard to describe what we do?

The Google image search gets one thing right: public relations is a combination of a lot of things. Our job, even on a daily basis, consists of many tasks that can include pitching reporters, building media lists, setting up media briefings for our clients, writing blog posts, managing social media profiles, and writing press releases, just to name a few.

According to Wikipedia, “PR is the practice of managing the spread of information between an individual or an organization and the public. Public relations may include an organization or individual gaining exposure to their audiences using topics of public interest and news items that do not require direct payment.” Many people don’t realize that when you read an article online or in a newspaper, a PR pro likely pitched that story idea to the author. There are many ways PR pros take a story to the press – we discuss some of the most common tactics below.

How does it work?

At BIGfish, we work with many early-stage companies who need to launch their product and/or spread the word about their brand. We help these organizations define their vision and mission so that their messaging is consistent and strong, and then take their story to the press.

When that story is a big announcement, we write and schedule a press release with a wire service like Businesswire. Once the press release crosses the wire (aka publishes), we pitch it to a list of targeted reporters. One benefit of hiring a PR agency is that we’re able to leverage our personal relationships with reporters and databases of media lists to secure coverage.

Once a reporter is interested in a story, PR pros provide them with any documents they might need (like press releases, fact sheets, photos and media kits – all documents we help our clients prepare in advance). Oftentimes, reporters ask to speak with a representative from the company. At BIGfish, we first send our clients a backgrounder on the reporter and then set up and listen in on a briefing, or interview. After the briefing, we continue to follow up with the reporter to ensure the story is published with the correct links, names, facts, etc.

One common misconception is that we, as PR professionals, talk to the press on behalf of our clients. While we do deal with the press on a day-to-day basis and answer the occasional quick question, most of our work is done behind-the-scenes. Our goal is to set up interviews for company representatives. This not only gets the company name out there, but also establishes the representative as an expert on that topic.

At BIGfish, we also encourage our clients to attend media events, such as Pepcom and CES, in order to raise awareness about their brand and build relationships with members of the media. As a PR firm, we create and order all materials our clients need for these events, like business cards, signage, tablecloths and brochures. We also reach out to the attending press ahead of the show to let them know our client will be there and invite them to come see what they’re showing.

Once at the event, BIGfish team members make sure relevant reporters are stopping by our client’s booth/table and introduce them to the company representative for quotes and additional information. We also obtain their contact information and follow up after the show to see if they need photos or have any questions.

We employ several other tactics at BIGfish, including product review campaigns, social media campaigns, setting up speaking events for clients, coordinating video production, and branding design – so you can see why it’s sometimes difficult to sum up PR in a sentence!

The result?

Your company gets coverage in trusted outlets that receive thousands or even millions of visitors (aka impressions) each month, raising positive awareness about your brand or product and driving traffic to your website. To see results of a previous BIGfish PR campaign, visit our case studies page to see more of our past work.

Brigid Gorham


BIG fish PR is an unconventional agency that helps its clients redefine their industries.