Anyone who works in public relations can quote what PR means as defined by the PRSA: “Public relations is a strategic communication process that builds mutually beneficial relationships between organizations and their publics.”
But our day-to-day in public relations is comprised of much more.
PR means different things to different PR professionals and experts. It changes as we work with different clients, brands, and industries. It ebbs and flows as we learn new skills and face new challenges.
We spoke with over 20 publicists and PR professionals to learn how they define PR.. We compiled these quotes to share a different perspective on what PR means and why it’s an important asset and profession. Hopefully, some of these quotes will resonate with you.
First, let’s hear from a handful of well-known business and PR folks.
“It takes 20 years to build a reputation and five minutes to ruin it. If you think about that, you’ll do things differently.” – Warren Buffet
“If I was down to the last dollar of my marketing budget, I’d spend it on PR.” – Bill Gates
“Publicity is absolutely critical. A good PR story is infinitely more effective than a front page ad.” – Richard Branson
“The public is the only critic whose opinion is worth anything at all.” – Mark Twain
20+ Best PR Quotes from PR Professionals
Now, let’s unpack some quotes shared with us from publicists and PR professionals around the world.
Need a good story to tell?
“PR is all about storytelling. It’s striving to find different angles to tell the story and finding ways to engage with your targeted audience. PR means becoming a critical thinker. We, as publicists, must find ways that can make a story newsworthy and interesting. Publicists take the information about a client and properly spread it to the right media outlets. Need a good story to tell? Hire a publicist!” — Keaira English, KeConnectionsPR
Building a relationship with the public
“I’ve always said PR people often forget to go back to the words “public relations.” How well are you, your client, and/or your brand relating to the public? What value are you providing them? If your job is to network and build a relationship with “the public” (your client’s target audience), then PR goes well beyond what most people think … it’s about the complexity and commitment to relate frequently and with clarity to your “public” audience.” — Simona Georgescu, Adduco Communications
Crafting the right message
“Now, because of social media, PR practitioners have the ability to directly reach consumers without always having to go through the media. PR is about crafting the right messaging in order to reach and influence specific target audiences, whether they be media or consumers directly.” — Stacey L. Vaselaney, SLVPR
A requirement for honesty
“PR and, particularly, the side of working with the press is the place I have found myself because of its requirement for honesty. I love the challenge to satisfy both the client and the fact that the journalist’s responsibility is to their readers. When you can walk that edge and get a story published, the credibility and value provide the satisfaction that underlies why I love what I do.” — Stephen Lee, San Francisco
PR delivers social proof
“Every business needs to take every customer down the funnel of visibility, credibility, and trust. PR serves these first two beautifully — you get both the reach and a portion of credibility with each mention. We are hardwired to look for social proof, and PR delivers.” — John Paul Engel
Being human should be #1
“To me, PR is all about relationships. Now, more than ever, it’s important to understand that the editors, reporters, and producers on the other end of our emails and cold calls are people, too. Being a human should be a top priority. Do your research so you’re not bothering anyone with an angle or media pitch that isn’t their beat. Genuinely inquire about how people are doing. And, most importantly, cultivate authentic relationships with the people you’re working with.” — Olivia Civiletto Erwin, ElevenElevenPR
Joining a table of decision-makers and luminaries
“At its best, public relations means being at the table with the decision-makers and luminaries of industry to help them read the room and respond in meaningful ways. We have the power to transform missions, businesses, and communities when given the opportunity.” — David Wyatt, Elizabeth Christian Public Relations
The secret? Relationship-building
“Put simply, PR is the art form of obtaining third-party endorsements without money exchanging hands. The secret to this? Relationship-building. Whether in-house or agency side, PR is all about managing relationships. This centers around working collaboratively with all stakeholders involved, working towards the end goal of delivering the best possible content that fulfills both journalistic and PR objectives — delivering true value to the reader.” — Sally Willis, Yieldify
Brand marketing is at the core of PR
“In my opinion, brand marketing is at the core of public relations. A publicist, whether freelance, boutique agency or international firm, cannot pitch a company or individual unless their brand is on point. Media outlets will not entertain a story on something or someone that is NOT relevant or current, which leaves the client with the option of P2P (pay to play) as opposed to earned media. Many clients have misconceptions about what public relations is, and what publicists do. While some publicists and firms assist with brand marketing like my husband and I do in our agency, it is always appreciated and vital that a client have their brand packaged and marketing in place and active.” — Heather (West) Wing, West Wing Inc.
Developing meaningful and reliable relationships
“Public relations is the messaging a company develops to communicate with the public and the outreach that follows. It’s factoring in both the end user audience and the outlets and influencers you want to rely on to disseminate this messaging. PR is also still very much about developing meaningful relationships, so that reporters and influencers come to rely on you as a dependable source for useful, newsworthy information that resonates with their audience.” — Hilary Reiter, Redhead Marketing PR
The lion in the jungle of communications tactics
“I specialize in media relations, or earned media, a subset of PR. I’ve always believed that it’s the lion in the jungle of communications tactics. PR helps organizations break from the herd — through stories that bring out laughter and tears, or address the basics of life (e.g., health and money). Impeccable timing, compelling quotes and data, and a commitment to the truth complete the PR artist’s palette. The result: Brands begin to be transformed from commodities to leaders.” — Dawn Ringel, Ringel PR
Bridging the gap between messaging and mass media
“To me, PR is all about helping a brand or person maximize their message’s potential. Every company, nonprofit organization, and person has a vision that they want to share with the world. Public relations bridges the gap to garnering vast media coverage that ensures that message is shared far and wide.” — Shannah Henderson, Henderson PR
Setting the standard of communication
“Publicists are communicators and storytellers. We take concepts that are not easily digestible and make them comprehensible for those around us. We also set the standard of communication both internally (within the agency or business) and externally (media, influencers, clients, etc.).” — Fabiana Meléndez, Zilker Media
Bringing passion to the public
“PR is about bringing a client’s passion to the public. It’s so much more than just media relations. In fact, the media aspect is just a bonus, something used to amplify, not something that should be relied on. PR is brand management. With no brand, there is nothing for the public to talk about or bring you into their homes.” — Diana Bassett, Diana Bassett PR
Paving a brighter future with stories
“PR is not about working for people, but rather working with people to create stories that matter, and utilizing the power of storytelling to cause a positive impact on society. PR is about making a difference in this world and paving a brighter future for us and the next generation to come.” — Kaulana Dilliner, Rebellious PR & Consulting
PR is finding the right homes for unique narratives
“PR is a beautiful blend of amplifying impactful stories, cultivating connections, and being an expert in finding the right home for every unique narrative. It’s working with talented people who have their sights set on changing the world and, as publicists, having our sights set on making sure the world knows it. At the end of the day, we are working with businesses and individuals to translate their message into words that resonate.” — Tiffany Burlingame, High Vibe PR
PR invites a larger crowd of people to the party
“PR means taking an artist’s story, their journey, their craft, and presenting it to the world in a succinct and easily consumable fashion. It is allowing your client the freedom to pursue their life’s work, without having to take time away from that, to let people know it is out there. PR invites a larger crowd of people to the party!” — Michael Stover, MTS Management Group
A healthy mix of emotional intelligence and business strategy
“PR is a healthy mix of emotional intelligence and business strategy; after all, the goal is to create a mutually beneficial relationship with your audience. It’s all about trodding the fine-line between revealing and emphasizing positive results while skillfully dancing around the bad results. Presentation is everything and good PR is the vehicle that can enable your brand to stand out from your competitors in the eyes of the public.” — Sharon van Donkelaar, Expandi.io
Grounding a brand in its roots
“Public relations is all about grounding a brand back to its roots. Even the most prominent and “successful” brands started in basements or small warehouses, with the patronage of family, friends, and neighbors. PR gives them the opportunity to step out of the corporate-scope, and deeply connect with their consumers on a personable, congenial, and even kindred level.” — Gianina Garcia, Ferreys & Co.
PR ≠ media relations
“In my opinion, PR has a PR problem. First off, a PR practitioner is different than being a publicist. The former is someone who builds a mutually beneficial relationship between organizations and their publics. The latter, a publicist, is a promoter of a person, book, act, etc. Many, (me as well when I was a journalist) believe PR = media relations. That’s actually just one facet of it. Public relations encompasses investor relations, crisis communications, speech writing, public and government affairs, strategic communications, media training, internal communications and social media management.” — Jenna Cooper, C3 Collective
The best friend that shares how awesome you are
“A publicist serves as that best friend that gets to share how awesome you and your brand are with people who otherwise may have never even known you existed.” — Jennifer Onwumere, Jengerbread Marketing
Establishing a mutual understanding between a client and its audience
“As much as things change or evolve, they also stay the same. Public relations is the art and science of establishing and maintaining a client’s reputation with the public. It’s the function that conducts a deliberate, planned, and sustained effort to establish a mutual understanding between a client and their audiences. The Greek philosopher Socrates understood the power and process of PR to simply say the way to a good reputation is to endeavor to be what you desire to appear. That is what public relations means to me.” — David E. Rudolph, D. Ericson & Associates Public Relations
Telling stories that might not otherwise be told
“At the heart of public relations is storytelling. I love that PR helps put great stories out into the world — stories about entrepreneurs, non-profits, events, art, theatre, companies and individuals doing unique, important and intriguing things. PR is finding an audience for these stories so they can be told. Watching the impact of a successful placement is addicting — landing on the news even if just for a five minute segment can change the outcome and trajectory of my client’s journey to success. It’s telling stories that might not otherwise be heard.” — Liz Morgan, Liz Morgan PR
PR is sales, but harder
“PR is like sales but harder. It requires an interesting angle, relevance, persuasion, relatability, and timeliness. It can be the most rewarding work or the most disheartening — there’s really no in-between.” — Annabel Maw, JotForm
Having a compelling story is not enough
“The most important component of successful media outreach is matching the idea or story angle to the publication and the writer, and sending a strategic, targeted, and tailored pitch email. Having a compelling story is not enough. You have to match that story to the outlet where it’s a perfect fit for their editorial focus and will add value to their readership. An effective PR campaign will allow a company to connect with, and get their products and services in front of, their target audience in a massive way. To reach a lot of people quickly and in a way that creates consumer demand, there’s no more efficient and effective way than PR!” — Jennifer Berson, JenerationPR
How do you define PR? What does PR mean to you? Hopefully some of these quotes from other publicists and PR experts inspire you and provide a new perspective on the profession.
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