What does a PR agency do?

What a PR agency does can be quite effectively defined by what it doesn’t do.

To elaborate, PR agencies, in contrast to advertising agencies, promote businesses or individuals through editorial coverage. This is referred to as ‘free’ media – the stories that appear in newspapers and magazines, on television and radio, blogs and websites – as opposed to ‘paid’ media – or advertisements.

A key goal of PR and advertising is the same – to create a positive image for, and promotion of, their client – and build a reputation for their company as transparent, progressive, exciting and relevant. However how the two agencies go about creating this awareness is where the similarities stop. While advertising is generally accepted as something that is paid for by the client and therefore subject to skepticism, television appearances or stories in well-liked or respected publications will receive third-party validation and are seen in a more positive light.

A Public Relations agency will:

  • Anticipate, analyse and read public opinion, alongside any issues, perspectives or attitudes that may impact – good or bad – on the organisation itself.
  • Foster relationships throughout all levels of management in an organisation with the aim to create open lines of communication around decision making and courses of action
  • Work with an organisation to achieve informed public understanding that is key to the success of a company’s stated goals

To do this, a Public Relations agency will employ the following tactics:

  • Draft and distribute media releases
  • Speech writing
  • Write pitches about a company and liaise directly with the media on these
  • Create special events
  • Crisis and issues management
  • Conduct market research about the company or the company’s key messages and or objectives
  • Handling of social media promotions and any unwanted negative attention online
  • Expansion of business contacts via personal networking or attendance and sponsoring at events
  • Copywriting, blog writing


Think of a good PR agency as a skilled strategic partner – someone who help you talk to your audience with success.

Hiring a PR agency is a good idea when…

Companies and individuals wanting to protect, enhance or build their reputations through media channels are in the perfect place to hire a PR agency. Any good PR practitioner will work to research the company, seek out the positive messages and translate these messages into great media stories. And when its bad news, PR people will craft the best possible response, thereby limiting the damage.

Think of a good PR agency as a skilled strategic partner – someone who help you talk to your audience with success. They should also be a great listener with the ability to read the market well and know what pressure points will work. Cultural fit is also essential – finding an agency that understands your voice and where your company is going is imperative to getting the results you want.

It’s no secret that many PR people have worked as journalists in their past lives, which gives them the ability to know the best ways to pitch a story and also reach out to key media people such as editors and reporters. Ex-journalists working in PR don’t lose their nose for a great story either!

It is important for a client and agency to have a dynamic relationship that is characterised by good open communication. Clients need to be open with their PR agency about the messages they want to convey to their audiences, alongside making suggestions about the media channels in which they would like to appear. Editorial coverage is an ideal way for clients to increase their visibility with target markets – long term, PR is an investment in the brand and its reputation and recognition.

Fleur Revell

Fleur Revell

Director at Impact PR
Fleur Revell is one of the country’s most eminent PR consultants and public relations practitioners with more than 20 years industry experience behind her. Fleur is also a three times Qantas Media Awards winner and Feature Writer of the Year; and has an exceptional working knowledge of the New Zealand media landscape and its accelerating evolution in the digital age.