In my Creative Arts faculty, students are preparing for their degree show exhibitions.
Public relations, as so often, is a misfit. What do we make? What do we have to show for all the talk and all the work?
Advertisers have their creative visuals. Journalists have their published articles.
There was a time when we made press releases, and had media coverage to show for it. Then we made blogs and gained comments.
These artefacts are not a good way to describe public relations as they only give a glimpse of an output, never an outcome. To explain the purpose of public relations, we resort to abstract concepts such as ‘reputation’ and talk about ‘intangible assets’.
Yet most students need to start with tangibles – things they make. Only then can they explore the extent to which the things they make, make a difference.
So, in an attempt to show a product of public relations, we created a social media event (#SOSM2015, summarised by Storify), We generated scores of tweets and shared photos on Facebook and Instagram. The virtual event went well, but there was one benefit to attending in person: only then could you enjoy the beer and the cake.
So, what did we learn? Public relations makes things happen in order to make a difference. (It’s like cake, but slightly longer lasting).