What’s in a (PR) Name?

The Public Relations industry has changed drastically in recent years. The advent of the digital era has brought with it not only new ways of working, but the added challenge of finding new ways to describe what we do.

In Northern Ireland we’ve remained steadfast, for the most part, to generic job titles such as “Account Executive” and “Account Manager” but many companies across both ponds are using the same creativity deployed in their work to amend their job titles.

Digital Guru.
Content Ninja.
Social Media Rock Star.
Director of Chaos.

These are real job titles. Do they instil in potential clients any more confidence in our ability to deliver? I wouldn’t think so. Do they offer any more insight for Joe Bloggs into what we actually do? Probably not.

What they do, really, is inject the same level of fun and imagination into the office that is utilised in PR for clients.

They also raise an interesting question. Is it time we reviewed job titles? Is it important? Would it make a difference, inside or out?

I’m reminded of a conversation I had just last week in my own job. The CEO was thinking of changing our department from “Communications” to “Marketing and PR” (having originally been PR many moons ago, only to be changed to reflect the wider range of services provided to the rest of the organisation). So I was asked if I would mind changing from Communications Officer to Marketing and PR Officer. Would I mind? No.

But the real question is, would the change accurately reflect what I do? The answer is: not really. Working in an in-house team, the majority of my personal work is taken up by writing and distributing press releases, researching and writing publications and updating social media accounts. The most logical description for that in this modern age would be something along the lines of “content creation”.

The problem lies in the fact that most people won’t fully understand what that means. No more so than they understand the nuances between PR and Marketing, but at least they’re terms most people have a grasp on understanding.

Like most departments (outside of agencies, which often require people to be Jack-Of-All-Trades) we have pretty defined roles which helps to prioritise the varied work of services and projects across the country. My colleague manages events. My boss oversees new brand creation and public affairs.

So seeing “Director of Company Content” in my email signature might raise a smile during my working day, but it wouldn’t fundamentally change what constitutes my working day and so I think, on the whole, the clichĂ© “What’s in a Name?” probably applies here.