Posted by: Shannon @ A Dash of Sparkle | October 4, 2010

Explaining PR at a Dinner Party…

Photo Courtesy The Guardian

For years I dreaded that unavoidable question at dinner parties and social situations when people ask, “So, what do you do for a living?” – I would take a deep breath and evaluate my best answer. It’s not because I had an embarrassing or shameful job, on the contrary I loved what I did and was incredibly lucky to work with some of the smartest industry minds out there. But there are a certain set of reactions that always followed my inevitable answer of, “I do PR.”

If the person worked in the media, they’d automatically take a couple steps back like I was going to lunge at them. Some people would ask me what celebrity I worked with (grr), while others asked me if I did any freelance and could get them an ad in some magazine (ugh). Most people however would look at me with this blank expression like I said I was a nuclear scientist working on the arrangement of subatomic particles.

I have since expanded my job responsibilities to include marketing communications, but am always fascinated by the PR aspect of my job. The industry has changed so much and PR (public relations for those who just glazed over), both traditional and the more modern applications, has thankfully become a bit more mainstream with businesses placing more weight on this part of their business strategy. I can’t help but get excited when I hear a business owner who was thrilled after a successful social media campaign, or read a story about a small start-up who got their first big break of popularity when they landed in some major media outlet.

Take the story from this Sunday’s New York Times about a startup customizable chocolate company Chocomize who had their website mentioned in O Magazine (Oprah’s Magazine) and had to race to keep up with the resulting onslaught of calls and inquiries. Like many consumer start-ups, it was this media attention that caused demand to explode and their businesses and partnerships to be really put to the test.

It is this impact on the overall business that makes PR such an incredible strategic tool and keeps me coming back for more. I’ll gladly say this to the people who look confused when I try to explain my job, but in the end I know not everyone will get it. So for now I will simply refer to this NYT article to explain the power and impact that media outlets still hold and the important role PR professionals get to play in business today. Who knows, at the right dinner party it could start a good conversation!


  1. haha being in PR I definitely know what you mean. I love when people think I said HR, lol and I hate when people assume a celeb publicist and a PR professional are the same thing. I usually go with the simplest answer and say “it’s my job to get my company written up positively in the newspaper or in magazines. Finding an interesting story at work and communicating it to the public.”

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