Public Relations is like…(Take 2)

Sometimes things just have to “click” with people before they can truly understand and then fully embrace that idea or take action because of it. As I reflect back on my academic career, I’m reminded of many instances where this proved true for me. For example, I’m close to pinpointing the month, day and year when I stopped learning math. (It’s one of the many reasons I’m in the public relations field. Can I get an “amen” from the peanut gallery?) Why did I stop learning math, might you ask? Simple: it stopped clicking for me. Mr. Dahlberg was a good teacher and an even better man, but math stopped clicking, and I didn’t care enough to ask for help. Fortunately for me, there were many more examples of concepts or theories clicking for me, and staying that way, that propelled me to future success.

Analogies can help make this connection to further understanding. Not sure if you’re a fan of a good analogy, but this is my blog post, so get over it. In all seriousness, I’ve found a few analogies that help public relations click for folks, leading them to a greater appreciation for and understanding of the tremendous value that good public relations can provide. A few posts ago, I shared an analogy that resonated with me years ago –the elevator button.

Today, I’m sharing the first analogy for public relations I was ever taught – the supermarket. (This is also helpful in explaining some of the differences in advertising, marketing and PR. While they are three sisters, they are incredibly different!)

So, you walk into your neighborhood Kroger store and can immediately spot advertising examples everywhere. Look no further than the printed list of coupons by the door, the ads on the back of the shopping carts and the announcement over the intercom about today’s special on ground chuck in the meat department.

Walk to your food section of choice, and before you’ve even turned down the aisle, marketing has greeted you with an elaborate end cap display featuring Bud Light’s latest campaign and a great price on a 30-pack. Meander down the pasta aisle, and you find yourself gravitating toward the macaroni and cheese, naturally. There’s marketing again – it has placed Kraft Macaroni & Cheese at eye level on the self, as opposed to the Kroger brand and other similar products which require you to stoop down or stand on tiptoe to reach.

And, finally, we make it to public relations. Except, you’ve actually already encountered it before you even set foot in the store. Public relations drove you to go to Kroger in search of Kraft Macaroni & Cheese in the first place. Perhaps it was that article in the paper about the mac-and-cheese contest Saturday. Or, maybe it was your brother-in-law raving about the best cheesy pasta dish he’s ever had. It could have been your sister’s Pinterest board, where you saw a picture of baked macaroni that was to die for. Or, maybe you heard from a friend that Kraft had adjusted its mac-and-cheese product to eliminate artificial flavors. Whatever your reason, public relations shaped your perception of Kraft Macaroni & Cheese and drove you to action well before you entered the store.

So, who is talking about what you are doing? And what are they saying?