Fancy a Career in Public Relations?

Nishka Manglani

Way back during college days, I always dreamt of having a career that didn’t require too much of efforts, you know something away from the mess of brooding over an imbalanced balance sheet or understanding the economics behind the economic cycle.

I clearly remember this one afternoon when I was in Ahmedabad listening to the RJs (Radio Jocks) of the newly launched Radio Mirchi. I said to myself how cool is this career – getting paid to talk, talk and talk and I developed an immediate affection to it which later developed as my first job straight of college – the joys of getting into what you wanted to do is a real thrill.

PR is the art of promoting something and is different from advertising in that it is not limited to buying space only.

From the joys of being a radio jock, I became a PR professional, where talk was equally important but so was writing, strategy, relationships. PR is an art that each one of us must have, for ourselves, our family, our town, our country, our business. I think it can apply to just about everything one can associate oneself with.

PR is the art of promoting something and is different from advertising in that you don’t have to buy space. As wikipedia rightly defines it: Public relations gains an organization or individual exposure to their audiences using topics of public interest and news items that do not require direct payment. Because public relations places exposure in credible third-party outlets, it offers a third-party legitimacy that advertising does not have. PR isn’t limited to media only, it has no set boundaries, its reach is beyond just media, it encompasses how you deliver a speech to your employees and how you address a conference to how you interact with just about anyone. PR is Powerful and Highly Effective.

I’ll give you a simple example here, one that I often give to friends and family explaining what PR is. You take a newly launched perfume of two different companies – a Chanel one and say a Christian Dior. The former promotes the new fragrance in a widely read lifestyle magazine on a double page spread right in the first 10 pages of the magazine through an ad with a celebrity endorsing it and the latter is mentioned in the Editor’s note of the same magazine as ‘Highly Recommended or Editor’s Pick’. Which one are you more likely to pick up? Chances are the Christian Dior one, because someone is recommending it to you and this someone is the Editor of a popular magazine.

The key is to listen, understand, grasp and develop.

You get my point?

Now for someone who wants to get started in this field and it sounds exciting but lack professional degrees, don’t worry. You need to work your way up. To begin with start interning with a public relations agency or pick up an administrative job. It is on the job that you can pick up your skills and fine tune them. This is exactly how I started off. The key is to listen, understand, grasp and develop.

The most important thing for a PR professional is a thorough understanding of their media. Read your local newspapers, magazines, carefully understand its different sections, its style, who it is directed to, what do they write about. Follow the same for your local news channels and radio. I did this for the first few months and one day in a discussion, I told my colleagues, why not place our client in this section of this magazine. I showed them previous samples of the column. The idea was loved and that was my official entry into this exciting field.

In this day and age, I must also add an understanding of how powerful social media such as Facebook, Twitter and YouTube operate is essential.

PR stretches across many industries from fashion, beauty and health to construction, real estate, law and retail to name a few. If you have graduated in a certain discipline, getting into PR will not waste that effort. In fact your knowledge of that particular field will only be an add on. Look for PR agencies specializing in clients in your sector and approach them accordingly.

I hope this brief article paves the way for your successful career in this industry or in your life in general, for as someone rightly said, everything you do or say is public relations.

About Komal-Nishka Manglani: She is a PR professional based in Dubai, UAE. She has been in this field for five years now and has extensive experience with the Gulf media. You can direct any queries related to gaining further insights in this field to nishka.manglani at gmail.com

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11 Replies to “Fancy a Career in Public Relations?”

  1. Hey Nishka,

    I have always found the PR industry very interesting and appealing, but I am scared to talk to people. I shy away from social gathering. I don’t approach people? Where do you think that I should improve?

  2. Hey Rajesh,

    I’m not sure how old you are but I was a lot like this in my teens. The key is to not let the fear get to you and always persuade yourself to do things that will help you get out of this shell, for instance, interacting with new people, participating in activities, being proactive at work and asking for a chance to be a part of an assignment, pitch, etc.

    During my initial training at Radio Mirchi where I very conscious and shy too, I was told to go into a room and shout – loud and louder and than again really loud. This had helped me quite a bit too.

    Keeping pushing yourself to not stay in that shell and I think that is the key. Good luck

  3. I agree so much with you when you say PR is an art that each one of us must have. It is so very useful in everyday life as well. And more importantly, in today’s world, it has become so necessary when everyone is talking about themselves.

    Thank you Komal for this useful article. I would love to see if you can share some tips for effective PR for small companies who cannot afford to have a dedicated PR company for them.

  4. I stay in Kuwait. I work in a PR firm here. Have some questions for you.

    1: How different is practicing PR in India and Middle East?

    2: Does Looks play a active role in PR?

  5. Sandeep, I think you’ve given me a really nice subject to talk about. I hope to write in detail about it but just very briefly as I mentioned in this article, understand your local media and see where your company fits in. If you are introducing a service or doing something unique that you think your target audience should know about, speak to journalists and editors and see how they react. The way you pitch your story to them is important.

    Nirmala, I entered the PR world here in Dubai and therefore cannot comment on how it differs from practicing in India but I am sure the basics stay wherever you go.

    Looks do not matter, they are superficial. Presentation surely does – in that how you carry yourself. However I think talent supersedes it all 🙂

    Pari – writing a comment is the easiest thing, no need to talk or interact; I am assuming your question was similar to Rajesh’s in that you are a shy person. I hope my reply to him helps you too.

  6. Hi Nishka,

    A very well written article..if I may humbly say so.
    Am an independent PR Consultant here in Mumbai and your bang on with the listen- learn -grasp -and develop MO.Keep writing in coz there so much to learn from you..

    Cheers and Keep in touch

  7. Interesting article …..

    I ,however, have reservations with the defination of PR that you’ve mentioned. When you say “not limited to buying only” do you imply that advetorials and paid placement of articles in a paper are ethically ?

    At the end of the day whats the use of a recommendation if it is bought? The idea of paid PR shuns credibilty of the brand and the industry as a whole.

    The difference between Pr and Ad is, one is a bought medium the other informs, influences and makes the public aware through eith the medium and more recently through open two way means of communication.

  8. Thanks Pearl and Priya for your comments, it’s always good to have feedback from peers in the same industry.

    Priya, what I meant was unlike advertising PR is not limited to places that can be bought and seen only and therefore PR is beyond advertising. Perhaps I need to clarify this as you rightly pointed out, it might be confusing.

    The beauty of PR lies in the fact that it is not bought. Thank you for your feedback and I fully agree.

  9. Hi there,

    Would like to know what company you work for and what are the retainer fees for PR services?

    Thanks

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