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So, Public Relations…what DO you do all day?

So, Public Relations…what DO you do all day?

“PR? Bunch of champagne charlies and sloane rangers harassing journalists and going out for long boozy lunches? That’s an easy job!”

So said one of my friends when I got my first job in public relations. In truth, I agreed with her, despite my complete lack of knowledge of the industry and the people who worked in it.

Sure I had read a few books and written three essays on the media relations strategy employed by New Labour in the 1997 General Election but apart from that, I had no clue about the inner workings and machinations of the industry.

I thought I’d turn into a Machiavellian manipulator over night, artfully maneuvering the media into submissive yet glowing articles about my clients. Days would be spent using my guile and *ahem* quick wits on unsuspecting journalists while evenings would be spent attending fabulous party after fabulous party with the great and the good. I was even thinking about getting a membership to the Groucho Club (and the East India, but that’s a different story).

Then reality set in. My day would consist of pretty much the same routine as Chris Clarke’s.

Get in, monitor for one client, monitor for another client, report the results of the monitoring, read the newspapers and look for ways to get clients into the news cycle. Internal meetings. Do some writing, field requests for interviews/comment/bylined articles from journalists, spam the other journalists. Write more reports, more internal meetings and the most important part of any UK PR’s job, making tea.

It’s a far cry from the career I had in my mind’s eye. I was delivering four foot high helium balloons to journalists, carving out articles from the paper with a scalpel and using PritStick to mount it on paper and stuffing media kits with interminable releases, executive bios and product spec sheets. Oh the glamour of it all.

Almost four years on and I’m now a “Senior Consultant, Internet Communications” and my day hasn’t changed too much. More internal meetings, less monitoring (this changes depending on the clients we’re working with), more reports, less spam, more writing, less tea (Canadian tea tastes like dishwater).

Along with all of this I do what people call “account management” basically making everything about a project goes smoothly and that the client is happy. The Internet part of the job means I’m designing the skeleton of a Web page and how a site’s site map will look and then test the finished product before releasing it to the client…like a beta test.

Because all this social media stuff is new and I’m considered a something of an expert (land of the blind and all that) I also work with the traditional PR guys and gals on how to apply social media to complement their offline campaigns.

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It can be boring, tedious and frustrating but there are times when I’m providing real value to my clients (internal and external) rather than just doing “account management” (where 45 per cent of all PR dollars get spent). This week I created a cool new way to report blog hits to a client (hint: it involves a blog) and did some pretty interesting research for a prospective new client. It felt good to be doing something innovative and try new things.

So it’s not all bad.

In fact, if this sounded appealing to you, if you have a passion for online communications and are in Toronto (Canada) then there may be a position for you with a leading Internet consultancy…

As for that friend, she was completely right. She was the person who got me that job.

Ed Lee is a Senior Consultant, Internet Communications, at Canadian Internet Consultancy iStudioPublic. He blogs on PR, marketing and social media at Blogging Me Blogging You.

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