by: Danielle Hammond,
Senior Marketing Coordinator at Social School
“But what exactly is public relations,” and other frequently asked questions.
“So, what do you do?”
— everyone ever of all time
I graduated university with a Bachelor of Communication, specializing in Public Relations and have a history working in marketing and communications (marcom). Sounds simple enough, right? The number of assumptions are astounding, and it is extremely common for people to make generalizations that diminish the profession. The reality is that marketing, communications and public relations professionals and their jobs are very misunderstood.
Every small-talk conversation starts with “So, what do you do?” and I typically respond with, “I work in marketing and communications.” 20% of the time I get the courteous head-nod and “oh, that’s interesting,” 5% of the time I get blank stares, and 75% of the time, people get really excited and start asking questions. Having someone be interested in your job is great until they start tossing out questions like, “so you just play on social media all day?” Whoa nelly, stop right there. That’s like asking a basketball player if they ‘just shoot 3-pointers all day’. It’s definitely a part of the job, but not the entire thing. And using the words “just” and “play” are pretty condescending, FYI.
I asked colleagues and peers about their experiences with this topic, and they started listing questions and favours they’ve been asked and subsequent conversations they’ve had regarding the marketing and communications industry.
- “My little cousin has Instagram. She could do your job.”
- “Can you make me a quick website?”
- “That’s not an actual degree in university though, right?”
- “Social media isn’t that hard – why is it someone’s job?”
- “Can you write me a social media marketing strategy? But I don’t need to pay you, right? It will be really good for your portfolio, so I’m kind of doing you a favour.”
- “No seriously, what do you actually do?”
- “Can you make my video go viral?”
- “I post on Facebook, does that mean I am a digital marketer?”
- “Can’t you just Google it? Why did you go to school for that?”
- “Everything is changing, why would you waste your money on that degree?”
and my personal favourite:
“Why would a business want to be on social media? That’s so unprofessional.”
So let’s set the record straight!
Marketing, communications and public relations professionals develop and execute all marketing initiatives that drive strategic business results.
There are many moving pieces, which is perhaps where the misunderstandings stem from.
Among other things, responsibilities include:
- content creation
- writing copy
- graphic design
- social media management
- market research
- website design
- collateral design (ie: brochures, business cards, etc.)
- trade shows
- digital analytics
Since most of us are wearing so many hats, we are constantly jumping between tasks that are equally significant and rewarding. I am biased, but I believe the natural draw to this profession is that no two days are the same. While one day is spent writing copy for websites, newsletters and blogs, the next day could be travelling and executing an event for 300+ people.
If you want a giggle, take a look at these pages that perfectly sum up being a content marketer, graphic designer and digital marketer; and these hilariously relatable gifs about being a marketer.