Author - Lecturer - Strategic Communications Adviser

Why Is Public Relations a Necessity?

Date - September 8, 2019

by Jennifer R. Farmer

It’s a two-letter word that appears in countless articles and even more conversations. We have all heard of “public relations” but few of us understand what it entails.

Put simply, PR is the intentional crafting of a favorable public image. It is the outreach strategy that supports and protects a company’s or brand’s positive perception with the public. PR entails media outreach, goodwill events and gestures, and strategic communications.

To understand how it works, think of a megaphone. PR is like a megaphone ensuring that your message is heard and heard by as many people as possible. A former client-colleague, Mollie Katz, described it this way, “Public relations is like a power strip. Programs and groups plug into it in order to get power to continue leading mission-driven work.”

It is like a musical amplifier, ensuring that people from all corners can clearly hear what is being said and who is doing the talking. See this infographic for a visual representation of public relations.

PR is imperative because it ensures that a message is heard in the way the messengers intend. In his book “Words that Work,” Frank Luntz talks about the importance of understanding how others interpret our words. PR thinks about these considerations and makes decisions on who talks, what they say and to whom they say it to bolster a leader’s public position and perception.

The challenge is that in a 24-hour news cycle, there is no shortage of issues competing for attention. It is often impossible to cut through without PR. Being good at what you do is simply not enough. You have to be good and intentional. Leaders must not only compete with their competitors for securing space on radio, TV or in print media, they must also compete with influencers on a myriad of social media platforms – Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, Pinterest – or at least the platform that their audience pays attention to.

One of the challenges with PR is that because many people don’t appreciate it, many don’t prioritize it. The primary focus for a lot of people is service delivery. For all the myriad issues in the world today, there are groups and leaders who make it their life’s work to resolve those issues. But our mission has to be working to resolve societal issues and telling people we’re doing so.

When a leader or group focuses on service delivery without assembling a PR team, it leaves the brand and message to the whims of competitors and overworked journalists. It is basically leaving its most important asset to chance, and it doesn’t take a genius to know that’s a bad idea. Some people think the media will eventually catch on, but we have to help them catch on.

If you are not devising a proactive strategy to publicize your work, you will undoubtedly be drowned out by competing interests. Part of service delivery is indeed cutting through the clutter and the noise of media and social media. The noise is our daily lives and the things that we care about. The noise is the distractions that take our focus. The noise is the myriad stories competing for attention, the numerous issues begging for coverage and the multitude of leaders who all believe their work is unique and newsworthy.

If you are still wondering why PR is necessary, think of it like currency in a bank. When you focus on it, it grows. And we all know about the importance of having money in the bank. Even if you don’t need it today, you most certainly will need to make withdrawals in the future. 

Jennifer R. Farmer is an author, lecturer and strategic communicator for organizations, executives and celebrities committed to social good. She is the author of “Extraordinary PR, Ordinary Budget: A Strategy Guide.” Follow her on IG/Twitter using @pr_whisperer.


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“Passion is not enough. Being effective in communications and PR requires creativity, responsiveness and relentlessness”Jennifer R. FarmerExtraordinary PR, Ordinary Budget: A Step-by-Step Guide. Order now from Barnes & Noble, Politics & Prose or your favorite book seller.

Book image - Extraordinary PR Ordinary Budget


Jennifer R. Farmer is a leading professional in communications strategy. For over 15 years, she has made her mark in social justice movements, working with entities as varied as PICO National Network, Advancement Project, the Service Employees International Union, SEIU District 1199 (WV/KY/OH), Obama for America, the Ohio Senate Democratic Caucus and the Ohio Department of Transportation (in the administration of Gov. Ted Strickland). She is the founder of Spotlight PR LLC whose mission is to develop high-impact communications workshops and trainings.

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Testimonials and Endorsements

Jennifer Farmer is one of the smartest and most talented communicators I know. She’s passionate, knowledgeable and relatable about her work. Plus, when we spent time together, she made sure I never ate alone.

Ari Berman, Contributing WriterThe Nation

When we worked together in the Forward Together Moral Monday movement, Jennifer Farmer skillfully heard me. She allowed me to be myself, while teaching me and the NC NAACP staff foundational communications techniques.

Rev. Dr. William J. Barber, Founder, Repairers of the BreachThe North Carolina State Conference of the NAACP,The Forward Together Moral Movement

I loved this book. It is smart, practical and filled with personal examples that underscore the author’s central message: there are concrete things you can do to promote your organization with or without a large budget. Extraordinary PR, Ordinary Budget is required reading for anyone wishing to use strategic communications to make a difference.

Celinda Lake, PrincipalLake Research Partners

Jennifer R. Farmer is more than a public relations expert, she is an organizational change agent. She has a laser-focused ability to guide teams to realize, utilize and maximize their collective abilities towards taking their company to the next level. From management coaching to strategic planning, Jennifer will help any team cultivate a culture of success.

Nina Turner, PresidentOur Revolution

I sincerely appreciate your work and having you as a team member. You have helped me grow and sharpen my focus for this journey. Thank you. Love and Respect.

Michael Render, pka Killer Mike, Activist, Rapper and Businessman