By Paris Pedrampour
This week, CSUN PRSSA had the absolute pleasure of hosting Stacy Long, one of our undeniably charming CSUN professors and PRSSA chapter advisors. Stacy illuminated us on the topic of Public Relations in its essential form. As well as having experience with Music Publicity and working with a number of well known bands, Stacy also informed us of her involvement within Agency 398, a student-run public relations firm at California State University Northridge with clientele such as Food Matters and Guide Dogs of America.
Public Relations has somewhat of an infamous reputation for trying to “get one over” on the public. However, Stacy successfully demonstrated to us that Public Relations consists of two primary objectives: to raise awareness and to influence public opinion. While we are familiar with many popular name brands, celebrities and other well known corporations, we must also acknowledge that behind every aspect of a business, society or even an individual, there is a Public Relations agent working with the trust of the public. Stacy portrayed the importance of your own likability, not only when relating to the public, but also when communicating with potential journalists and media outlets in order for them to endorse what you are advocating for.
It is easy to get confused as to what Public Relations truly is and what the job title entails. You may have heard other terms for Public Relations such as Public Affairs, Corporate Communication, and Media Relations, and while the wording choice may be different, they all primarily hold the same definition: a deliberate and planned process with a strategy behind it. This is not to be confused with publicity, which on its own is a tool for Public Relations and helpful in regards to a bigger plan. Public Relations is more of the strategically crafting older sister.
So what are the functions of Public Relations? Well, while Stacy emphasized that the central task would be constant writing, public relations agents also portray themselves as professional communicators. This happens through two different techniques; the first being a Management Interpreter, where you are telling your client about public opinions. The second would be a Public Interpreter, who is responsible for interpreting the policies and the philosophies of the relevant public (those most responsive to your organization) to the client. Other functions of a public relations agent also include Reputation Management, Crisis Comms and Community Relations.
After going through the various positions within a PR firm, Stacy also gave us a clear explanation to the misconceptions that arise when comparing Public Relations with other fields such as Advertising or Marketing. While PR, Advertising and Marketing all bare some relations to each other, they are all very much their own tool. Yes, advertising is a key way to promote your business through different media outlets, however, how many of us can safely say we pay extra on apps such as Hulu and Spotify in order to avoid such advertisements? This is because they become a cluster of unwanted information that bare no relevance, unless the company or corporation is already successful. Advertising sells products, while PR sells an organization. In comparison to Marketing, those involved within that process are more concerned with designing and selling products to consumers.
Stacy left us all with a much deeper understanding of the PR field itself, while sending us off with a few final words of wisdom. First would be to acknowledge that not all internships are good or beneficial, if the company is not providing you with an extension of your education you could be wasting your time, and finally, one must not under any circumstances, regardless of the situation, spin to the public or potential journalists.
Stacy Long was a charismatic speaker who instantly gained the attention of all those participating, leaving us more knowledgeable and eager to commence our careers in Public Relations.