What is PR?

Every day our lives are shaped by Public Relations … even if most of us don’t realise this, most of the time.

SoM blog post: What is PR - Primary Image

All organisations - businesses, brands, celebrities, sports and charities - use PR to get noticed and to persuade us to make decisions that help them succeed. PR is an important industry which offers exciting and well-paid career opportunities.

How does PR work?

Have you checked your socials today? Did an influencer you follow show you a new outfit or suggest a different type of make-up? Did you think about buying something special, doing something new, going somewhere different?

Have you seen the news today? Has a journalist told you about a new health scare, or a store opening, a film release, or a police appeal?

How did these stories start? Most likely a creative PR person put together a package designed to help an influencer produce compelling content, or gave vital facts to an intrepid reporter whose job it is to shape the news agenda.

Spreading messages, managing social media accounts, running multi-channel campaigns are just some of the ways in which PR practitioners encourage engagement on behalf of an organisation or cause they work with.

And if you did think about buying something, or supporting a charity, or changing your lifestyle, you will have thought a bit about reputation. What do other people, your friends and family, say about that business, that organisation?

Their views matter to you which is why shaping reputation is at the heart of much PR work. As the Chartered Institute of Public Relations (CIPR) says: "Public Relations is about reputation - the result of what you do, what you say and what others say about you."

"Public Relations is the discipline which looks after reputation, with the aim of earning understanding and support and influencing opinion and behaviour. It is the planned and sustained effort to establish and maintain goodwill and mutual understanding between an organisation and its publics."*

Public Relations never stands still

PR practitioners have to understand the latest trends, innovations, and advances. They spend a lot of time on social media so they need to be the first to understand new ways of communicating. They have to understand how Instagram, TikTok, Facebook and whatever comes next, operate. What works and what doesn't? It's their job to know.

They have to be creative - to think pictures, craft words, grab attention. But they also have to understand the science of PR, how to carefully plan strategic campaigns that use sophisticated techniques to tackle often complex problems. That's where our teaching expertise comes in.

Are Public Relations and Marketing the same thing?

Although they often work together, Public Relations and Marketing are distinct business functions. Marketing involves selling and promoting a specific product or service, while Public Relations is, as its name suggests, more about relationships. It's about making people happy and comfortable with organisations, maintaining a good image, and shaping positive reputations.

Why should I study PR?

For a start, PR is interesting and fun! If you see yourself working with celebrities, social media influencers, bloggers, YouTubers or well-known publications. Our Media courses offer PR modules, so you can get a well-rounded view of the media-sphere whilst deciding whether you want to specialise in PR or another area.

We also have an MA in Public Relations, for those who have already studied an undergraduate degree and have decided PR is the route for them. You'll be taught by respected PR professionals and academics who have run award-winning client campaigns and you will have plenty of opportunities to connect with some of the UK's top PR agencies, collaborate on real projects, and pitch to clients!

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What careers do our Public Relations graduates go on to?

BCU graduates have gone on to become PR Account Executives, Social Media Managers, Content Writers, Marketing Executives, Digital Assistants and worked for top agencies such as WPR Agency and Spottydog Communications, and organisations ranging from Warwick Castle to Birmingham Children's Hospital Charity.


What should you do next?

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