Public Relations or, as many of us call it, ‘PR’, has lots of definitions, as it depends on who you’re asking. Some confuse it with advertising, others with marketing.
Raluca Rotaru (Ene) defined what PR is to her and answered some questions for those who want to become PR specialists. She is Digital PR lecturer at BISM and Senior PR & Communication Strategist.
You have over 18 years of experience in communication and PR. How would you define PR for those who have just started thinking about following this path?
PR, standing for Public Relations, is the perfect job for those who are ready to dig deep into the essence of people, products and services to find what sets them apart, what makes them special and even unique in the world, only to build their story so as to draw the attention of the people who might be interested in them and thus bring them closer and even interact.
Public Relations is about curiosity and creativity, but also about data analysis and strategic thinking. About information and involvement. About resilience and perseverance, but also about innovation and even fun.
The pandemic has brought with it a lot of PR campaigns. What is your favourite PR campaign regarding the current situation and why?
Paradoxically, I would not choose a campaign around the pandemic, but rather actions and programs in spite of it, so to say – there were many companies and non-profit organizations that chose to also draw attention on other issues we still have to address to move further as a society, among which education (improving the quality of the educational service – SuperTeach has such a long-term program), inclusion (some of the largest retailers in Romania did wonderful jobs employing people with special needs, World Vision Romania has programs of helping children in underdeveloped areas have a chance to education etc.) or the environment (fight against deforestation, for example), to name just a few.
The fight against the pandemic would involve each and every one of us as individuals, as well as a community. But, in my view, the coordination of such diversity of forces needed to create a relevant mentality changing move at national level proved to be a challenge to Romanians.
What is that one skill that is important for a PR specialist to have?
Curiosity is a must. Resilience comes very close, together with a certain love for information and data. Language skills are also essential.
What challenges do you, as a PR specialist, encounter in your day to day life?
Ethics – finding the best in people, products and services means having something real to tell the story about. Anything else would be a straightforward lie, which is incompatible with this job. Also, using the job’s tools correctly and for the right reasons (and by that I, as a professional, understand actions that do not harm other people in any way) is also crucial to building a strong reputation as a PR specialist.
Routine – beyond any successful PR activity there is always a spark of innovation and creativity, but also a considerable amount of routine. One must embrace from the very beginning the idea of having to find something nice along the process or being always in the look for ways to renew every repetitive activity.
They say PR people should think outside the box. When was a time you thought outside the box and what did that bring you?
I strongly believe that thinking outside the box should be the prerequisite in every job, even in the most regulated ones, not only in PR. Public Relations is a type of service that evolves at a considerable speed due to the continuous change in means and channels of communication people use in their everyday life. Therefore, thinking outside the box, or rather taking out what’s inside it, became our way of doing business.
One thing that I used a lot and always adapted and improved along my career, as it followed my personal preference for Business-to-Business communication (companies that are in the lookout for potential clients which are also companies), was to always find unusual ways to disseminate information through the same channels everybody uses, to make our client’s story stand out. Be it creative content writing, special graphics, unusual deliveries – there is always something one can do to spark a new relationship between our client and their clients.
What is the difference between agency based and company based and what should a high school student choose?
If you are a student, always follow your heart, but take your brain with you, to paraphrase a witty popular joke. In other words, please do talk to people that work in a company, and also people that work in an agency, and choose the environment you feel fits you best, as both alternatives have their own advantages and downsides.
From my perspective, a company allows you to focus on one (or a limited number of) brand(s) and get creative from within the box, with the benefit of the challenge to keep being innovative and the risk of facing a lack of story diversity. In the same time, an agency offers exposure to a wide array of clients from as many industries across the economy, with the benefit of being able to use a tremendous lot of tools in the process due to different needs of the clients, and the risk of juggling with a huge amount of very diverse types of information.
Raluca Rotaru (Ene) teaches Digital PR in our Undergraduate Programs. She is Managing director of a communications agency and has a broad expertise in communication and business development.
Admission for the Digital Marketing and Business Management program is open until 31 August – check out the criteria.