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  • Writer's pictureRichard Pagett

What is a public relations specialist?

Updated: Jun 13, 2020

Hopefully through our recent blog posts combined with your own understanding, you have an appreciation for PR, what it is and where it sits with a business - and crucially, how to get the most value out of it. In this post, we’ll be taking a closer look at PR specialists, specifically relating to a particular sector or industry

What is a specialist?

You’ll no doubt be familiar with the phrase ‘jack of all trades, master of none’. A jack of all trades has extremely broad knowledge and experience, has likely worked in most, if not all industries or sectors and can share a case study for probably any PR brief out there. However, dig a little deeper, or ask something that’s a little more specific in, say, the construction industry, and Jack may struggle to really demonstrate his understanding of the sector. A master (or specialist) however (let’s call them Vera), she won’t have (or possess very limited) experience in say retail, or FMCG or automotive, but will be able to provide a set of creds that show many years of construction experience. She’ll have worked with some of the biggest companies and, most importantly, have proven success in delivering a return for a number of problems put across their desks in construction. 

In short, Jack is a very long horizontal line, crossing many different skill areas and industries, Vera however, her line isn’t as wide, but goes deeper. Vera is T-shaped. 

Why is specialism important

Now, there’s nothing wrong with being a generalist, there are many fantastic agencies out there with a broad portfolio, but when it comes to a particular sector, it’s not just knowing about the problems and challenges that exist, it’s about understanding them. Specialists, with their deeper understanding of subject matter, can better spot and seize on emerging opportunities as their deeper understanding and experience allows them to both connect the dots and  make a good fit, and to foresee what may be happening or due to happen - such foresight only comes from experience. A specialist’s knowledge and experience allows them to keep pace with change too. Whilst a generalist might be strongest in a slow-moving field, they may struggle to stay up-to-date in an industry that’s quicker moving or requires they act quickly. Specialists however already possess the knowledge, easily making sense of new technical developments, industry news or innovations as well as able to spot more strategic opportunities as they arise.

How do you work with a specialist public relations consultancy?

In many organisations, PR and marketing all too often sit as separate areas leading to inconsistency and lack of strategic direction. In short, resulting in missed opportunities and inefficient and unaligned execution. The best marketing strategies are the ones that use PR as a tool to contribute to achieving a higher goal and not one that relies on it solely as a siloed function. For a business to truly unlock the potential of PR, they have to give autonomy to the PR function - whether that be in-house or using a trusted partner. This is no different when working with a specialist PR team, in fact, we’d argue it’s even more important that you entrust them with knowledge of your company and don’t tether them to some arbitrary leash-length. True value will come from them having the space, the freedom and the understanding of your strategic goals and objectives to apply their vast experience to the benefit of your business. By restricting them intellectually, financially or otherwise, you waste the very reason you hired them in the first place - to grow your business. At Build, we consider ourselves to be PR specialists in construction. Aside from our 20 years’ experience working with companies like X, Y & Z, the knowledge and experience we’ve built up to really understand not just the industry as it stands now, but the direction it’s going and how it may look in 5-10 years from now isn’t something that just happens. Our network of contacts and thriving trade press office has allowed us to generate deep engagement with our construction client’s target audiences, delivering innovative campaigns and building brand reputation alongside their in-house marketing teams.

So, when looking for a public relations agency for your specialist business, don’t go wide and shallow, go narrow and but deep. It will pay off.

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