What is 'PR'?

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Today I bring you a guest post from Amanda Jackson of Tigerfish PR.  I met her a few weeks ago when I was co-presenting at Preston FM with Will Buckley.  She shared her 'hourglass' analogy whilst explaining about Public Relations (PR) and I was fascinated.  I asked Amanda to share her analogy on Geekalicious and here it is.  If you have any questions for Amanda please post them in the comments section and I'll direct her over here to respond to them.

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There are two questions I get asked frequently. How on earth do you find time for social media? And 'what IS public relations exactly?'

And usually answer to both of them is helped by... my hourglass. Yes, strange as it sounds, I use my beautiful half-hour device - it looks like an oversized egg timer. Let me tell you about it.

I acquired it a few years ago, in a bid to explain PR. There are many definitions of PR. It is  often thought of as press relations, but more accurately it is public relations. But what on earth does that mean?

Image Credit:
Rachel Caitlin, Flickr
Well, imagine my hourglass. The top part of it  is what is happening in your own business. All the business wins and challenges. The people coming and going, the funny incidents, the exhibitions you're going to. The 91 year old you might employ, the apprentices you've taken on. The new machinery you've bought, the services you've improved. You know, the 'stuff' that makes up our business world.

The bottom part, is what is happening in your customers' world. Pretty much the same - the challenges and successes. The new people, products and services.

So the middle bit? The neck of the hourglass?? Well, that is where PR fits in. That is the way that you and your customers communicate. That sand flowing though? That's the PR, the public relations. It's small bits of information, delivered slowly, consistently. They might be emails, stuff customers read in the press (via press releases), it might be a newsletter, it might be an exhibition, hey, it might be a conversation. But it's communication.

And the best thing about an hour glass, is that it is two-way. Turn it over. The information flows from customer to you. Who wouldn't want that?

Which leads me onto the social media. Because social media, whether it is Twitter, Linkedin, Facebook, Pinterest, etc. are all ways that you can communicate with your customers and potential customers. They are all that 'sand' flowing both ways, between you and your customer. But oh boy, can it eat time.

Which is where my timer comes in again. Mine is a half hour timer. I have it permanently on my desk. So I allow myself half hour 'chunks' of time for social media. I can see when the time's gone. There's no "forgetting" what time I started. I wouldn't be without it.

Finally, I confess, that half hour timer is also perfect for making me focus and crack on with tasks I sometimes put off. Like, er...doing 'PR for me' for example, because I'm like that  classic cobblers' child i.e. barefoot.

So for me, a half-hourglass forms part of the answer to many questions. But in in my experience, never the one which starts -'how long does it take to make a 30 minute Jamie Oliver meal?'


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Amanda Jackson is founder of Tigerfish PR, a PR agency which specialises in logistics and manufacturing sectors.  Her firm offers down-to-earth communications strategy, PR campaigns and social media training for companies that make stuff or move stuff.