PR Is Image Guardian.
If you search on Google or Youtube for the definition of public relations, you will get varied perspectives from PR experts and professionals. Since I worked in the field, I would like to share with you my understanding from my experience.
In China, public relations practitioners are perceived as those entertaining the stakeholders for benefits of their representing organizations. To my surprise, this perception is not unique to China. I was the public relations manager of Grand Hyatt Shanghai and sometimes I felt ashamed to introduce my title to my friends. Entertaining the journalists was part of my job, but not singing, dancing or drinking. We did offer complimentary meals or accommodations to the journalists in exchange for coverage. The conversations at the table were usually the unique selling points of the hotel products, new offers, executive movements, etc. My work revolved around press releases, media hosting, events, CSR, advertising, customer review monitoring, hotel awards application, crisis or issues handling etc. Simply put, all efforts to boost the sales and the image of an established hotel.
We did launch an awareness campaign for a pre-opening hotel of Shangri-La. In a city where Traders, a tier-two hotel brand of Shangri-La had claimed they were the real Shangri-La for eight years, to differentiate and at the same time promote the two sister brands was a challenge. Ogilvy social media strategist suggested starting a discussion on Weibo (China’s version of Twitter) but we did not take it. We ourselves started a taxi campaign in the city on the Thanksgiving Day based on our understanding that the taxi drivers were moving publicists. The campaign garnered substantial exposures on TV and print newspapers afterwards.
These are the typical work responsibilities of a PR person in the hospitality industry, which I believe other industries are more or less the same. As for the definition of PR, I prefer that PR is the deployment and implementation of a portfolio of communications strategies and tactics designed to build a favorable relationship with stakeholders for the purpose of maintaining a positive image and mobilizing public opinion. I would position PR professionals as image guardian. It is easier to understand if you compare an organization to an individual person, how he or she dresses, speaks, behaves, and deals with people and problems just shapes how others perceive and interact with them.
In addition to the traditional tactics such as media relations, event management, reputation management, CSR, etc, the social media and cultural considerations cannot be neglected. See how social media contributed to the viral success of Ice Bucket Challenge in 2014(https://www.meltwater.com/blog/social-media-and-pr-insights-from-the-ice-bucket-challenge-on-creating-lasting-impact/) And how it screwed up the reputation of United Airlines (http://coolerinsights.com/2017 /04/united-airlines-viral-social-media-pr-crisis/). See how the tradition of gifting red pockets in Chinese Spring Festival was again brought to life through Wechat Hongbao (red pocket) campaign. https://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/wechat-hands-out-lucky-money-on-new-yorks-times-square-billboards-during-chinese-new-year-300215938.html.
And to understand more about the PR, I would like to recommend these TV series for you to watch: News Room, Mad Men, and The West Wing.