16 April 2018

How to explain my job to non-industry friends and family that makes sense?

How many times in your career have you been asked: What do you do again? What exactly do you do? What does that mean?

I can attest to being asked those very questions at least 1000 times in my career. With many repeat performances!

Ever since the pilot episode of Bewitched in 1964 (I was 8 shut up) I dreamed of being an Advertising executive. Of course my parents were not thrilled about my decision because quite frankly, they had no clue how advertising worked and because it wasnt considered a ‘traditional” job, so they were vehemently against it. I went on to university to study horticulture, which is my favorite hobby. but i really hate getting dirty. So when I graduated with my Horticulture degree and it was time to join the workforce, my first stop for an internship was not at a garden center or landscaping company, but at the #1 Advertising agency at that time in New York City. And so my dream career was born and the questions about what I do came with it.

Fast forward 30 years as my career segued into Marketing and PR and the questions continued but evolved into: “Now what do you do”? and “I never really understood what you did”

“Well, Public relations is a strategic communication process that builds mutually prosperous relationships between clients and their desired demographics”  “Yes, our media relations plans are targeted and strategic. We pitch the right story to the right audience at the right time”.
Ya, no, that won’t cut it. That’s industry speak. It’s not something my family and friends understand nor do they really care to learn about.

I can already see the eyes rolling.  So I keep it simple. The fastest and easiest way to get them to understand is simply by saying:
“I get my clients on TV, in the papers and featured on blogs and social media platforms to share their news and products.”

This is also when I uncover the most helpful, and brutally honest feedback. When explaining, I ask friends to think about the brands they interact with or see on social media. Frequently, those thoughtss bring up something along the lines of:

“Oh thats you that does that? I hate when I see updates from companies I don’t know or care about.”
“So youre the person who puts ads in my news feed? Those are the worst.”

Sure, it’s not fun to hear that, but it’s also the perfect chance to learn from non-industry people about what they want from brands in the media. This part of the conversation often turns into my own little focus group, and I love it.

Too often we get into a focus group of one mindset, and think about how we like brands to act in the media. But we’re PR pros. We’re biased. Find out what your non-PR friends think about PR strategies, and you’re sure to uncover some hidden gems.

This is also a good time to remind your friends that yes, you write, but you’re not a journalist. I’ve had a number of people ask if  I write for the TV interviews or magazine editorials. How did this start? No idea. But I’m quick to correct them before yet another misconception gets started.

Any questions? If we’re getting down to PR 101 for non-industry friends and family, we have to follow the often repeated advice of “keep it simple.” Otherwise our words will go in one ear and out the other, leading to a lifetime of:

“So you plan parties and play on social media? Now, isn’t that nice.”

For more of what we do follow us on… and check out our website at Tokcommunications.ca
Im sure most of your questions will be answered…

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