What comes to mind when you hear the term “Public Relations?” Untying myself from seeing it firsthand here at Wiser Strategies, I think of Public Relations as the professionals hired to fix a scandal. For example, The 2014 Taco Bell rat issue in New York City, or P&G’s Tide Pods similar appearance to candy, making it an issue for children.
While Public Relations often addresses scandals, it has deeper levels and different services for companies and organizations. It’s promotion, storytelling and most importantly, PR is building and maintaining relationships.
How is PR different than marketing?
As a professional, we tend to hear those words used interchangeably. However, when we are learning the difference in the terms, they are sometimes explained as the following:
Marketing: Paid Media
Public Relations: Earned Media
After doing research on different public relation firms in the country, it is clear PR is used for more than just reactive purposes as many people believe it to be. But what does that mean from state to state? City to city?
Here in Lexington, the PR firms are smaller because the companies that surround them are small to midsize. PR firms in New York City are larger because the companies that surround them are large. But is that the only difference? Just the size of the firm?
Real Lexington PR Professionals
To bring in the most informative and realistic answers, I’ve asked three PR professionals currently working in Lexington, Kentucky, who have worked in different cities or currently work with clients in different cities on a regular basis to see what makes public relations here in Lexington different.
Meet Tom Harris, current Vice President of University Relations for the University of Kentucky.
Prior to working in Lexington, Tom worked as Senior Manager Corporate Communications for Honda of America and as Communications Manager for Toyota Motor Manufacturing. When asked what makes Lexington unique in serving the public through Public Relations, Harris said, “From a PR practitioner perspective, I don’t think it is unique. I’ve found practitioners in most communities are very service-oriented and engaged in the community. I think that trait is pretty inherent in our profession. I do believe Lexington citizens generally have a powerful pride of community and want to be engaged in making it a better place to live.”
When asked if he enjoys working in Lexington, Harris said, “Yes, I love being in a college town that is highly educated and has a strong sense of community. While the PR jobs are limited, the opportunities to practice in the field do exist and push you to broaden your skill set and range of practice.
Now meet Jessica Morgan, current Director of Marketing & PR for Community Ventures, a non-profit organization with headquarters in Lexington. Morgan has had a variety of occupations in the PR field, with jobs for the U.S. Travel Association in Washington, D.C., director of marketing & PR for Bradenton Area CVB in Florida and director of PR for LXR Luxury Resorts also in Florida. With experience in several parts of the country, Morgan believes Wiser Strategies is comparable to those she’s seen elsewhere, saying the Lexington firm provides “top-notch services.”
Finally, meet Nancy Wiser, founder and president of Wiser Strategies. Nancy Wiser has spent her 35-year communication career in Kentucky representing corporations and organizations from New York, Washington D.C., Los Angeles, Detroit, St. Louis, Columbus and other large cities as well as her home state. This experience has provided her with a unique perspective.
“As I’ve worked with my peers in large corporations, it’s become clear through their comments and satisfaction that caliber of advice and service we provide our clients is on par and sometimes exceeds that of larger agencies. We set very high standards as a result of the mentoring we received from some of the country’s top professionals and a focus on always honing our skills.”
While public relations might have a common objective in most firms across the country, it is interesting to note the small details of what makes our city different from the rest. Due to some of our unique or unexpected industries – horses, bourbon and automobiles, and the high educational levels of our population — Lexington’s professional services are a step above other cities of similar size. And of course, the people you meet in Lexington are simply one-of-a-kind.