Media relations, image management, and social media are typically the initial responses to the question, “what does someone in public relations even do?” Although all of these responses are correct, they do not fully encompass the daily role of a public relations (PR) professional. To put it simply, a PR professional is a liaison between an organization and its publics. Within an organization, PR has direct contact with development and production departments (graphic designers).
The application of graphic design can be found consistently within the public relations field. Promotional materials, company logos, letterheads, press releases, client websites, and social media content all create an image for the public of the particular company or organization. An organization’s logo or designed content should be received by the public with both the public relations and graphics department in mind. Changes in design can directly affect how an organization is received by the public.
In 2010, Gap unveiled a new logo that generated a whirlwind of backlash and criticism from consumers and the design industry. When the logo was released, social media outlets blew up with negative responses. A major problem was that the logo had not been tested for consumer feedback before making such a drastic change to the company’s image. If the public relations and graphic design teams work more closely and collectively, the crisis may have been avoidable.
The importance of graphic design in the public relations industry is immeasurable. An organization’s success relies on strong design and clear communication, among other things. Even though a public relations professional would not solely resign an organization logo, it is important to have background in design especially in terms of online content. Websites and social media have become the easiest way for organization to instantly interact with their customers. It is undeniable that great design paired with great public relations keep companies relevant and successful.
Even the thought of not incorporating graphic design with public relations industry seems virtually impossible. Without graphic design in the PR industry, social media content would be mundane and not engaging, logos wouldn’t appeal to the public, and PR based materials would be confusing and cluttered. Using graphic design in PR materials creates an experience that a PR professional could not create on their own. The absence of graphic design in public relations would make the field significantly more challenging and overall less effective.