Monday, July 19, 2010

Viewing PR as a Skill

I once had a discussion with a friend who happened to be a marketing major. He playfully commented, "PR is a joke. It's basically just like saying you graduated from college--no specialty in particular." Besides being offended, I couldn't have disagreed with him more!

While communication majors aren't required to take difficult business classes like accounting or economics that is not to say that our education is a waste. To earn an 'A' in a PR class, you must have exceptional writing skills and be able to analyze a situation from all angles and perspectives. While crunching numbers may be missing from my coursework, investigating public opinion and case studies require time-spent reading, writing and evaluating. Factor in social media and new technology and you have a whole new bundle of skills that a future PR professional must master.

My experience at Liggett has reinforced my belief that public relations isn't just "a broad field." Instead, it is a field that is multifaceted and gaining momentum as the Internet continues to spread its wings and infiltrate every industry. A lot of the work I've been doing at Liggett requires me to analyze how our clients present their brands on the Web. After doing a series of competitive analyses, I've learned how to answer questions such as "What is their brand platform?" "How does this influence consumers?" "How are they using social media, and in what ways do they engage their audience?" A company that better communicates with consumers via the Web may have the advantage over lesser-engaging businesses.

After completing analyses, PR professionals at Liggett must strategically design a plan that will help enhance their clients' brand, and hence, consumers'/donors'/investors' perceptions. Last week, I sat in on a meeting with one of LS's clients that needed to reinvent their "brand architecture." Simple details such as naming the master company and its sub-divisions may affect the way others perceive a company's approach. For example: Should your brand use the "P&G model" and label separate brands to adhere to separate segments, or does the master brand need to be reinforced and tie in with sub-divisions, like Marriott Hotels?

After watching LS employees' presentation and participating in the research stages of the PR process, I have a new respect for the field I so passionately pursue. Liggett's PR professionals know their stuff, and the fact that I'm learning something new every day means that PR is definitely a skill to be acquired.

Rachelle Patsey
Brand Management Intern

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