Press Agent or Public Relations?

With the ever-growing interconnectivity of modern media fuelling a seemingly insatiable appetite for information amongst the general public, there is an increasing demand for professionals to manage all sorts of communications.

Whether it is a top level international brand, a famous celebrity or a company looking to increase a profile in either general or specific terms, there are numerous opportunities across the board for those who know how to deal with media of various types and how to manage breaking stories or create successful campaigns from the ground up.

So when it comes down to the basics of job descriptions, is there really an important difference between someone who calls themselves a Press Agent or someone else who would say they work in the Public relations industry? (The title Press Agent is primarily associated with the publishing and entertainment industries).

Press Agent: A press agent is commonly thought of as a professional publicist who acts on behalf of a client when it comes to any dealings with the press or their public profile. A press agent’s job is to ensure that news is managed properly and is featured in all the right outlets so that events, performances and promotional work receive the best coverage possible.

The role can often involve acting as a “spin doctor” when there may be press or public interest that isn’t necessarily showing the client in their best light.

While the emphasis has traditionally being focused on the mainstream print media and radio and television, today the role needs a deeper understanding of more recent models such as blogging and social media management.

Public Relations: Public Relations work, often simply abbreviated to PR, is usually more concerned with the day to day information management between a specific party and the general public.

The aim of public relations is to maintain a certain level of recognition regarding a client’s activities in their specific field so that the public, partners, employees and all interested parties have enough information to form an educated opinion of the client and what they do.

Recently, banking jobs provided a great example of the work a public relations executive may have to undertake, as the fallout from the global financial crisis has led to a change in public perception of the role of banks and the international banking system.

Laura Berry lives in London where she works as a marketing executive. She has an undergraduate degree in international business, and in 2010 she completed a post-graduate degree in marketing and public relations.           

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