One Christmas Day, early in my career, my grandmother asked what it was that I was doing with myself in that new job of mine. I explained that I was in PR.

“Is that like advertising?” she asked.

“Well, not exactly, but it’s related to advertising,” I offered.

I was already beginning to resign myself to the fact that my seemingly straightforward profession was somehow inexplicable.

She probed further, “So, what is PR?”

Good question. Few people grasp what exactly PR is. Many, even from within the field of marketing, think PR is a press release (in fact, some people even use “press release” as a verb).

Like “social media” and “CSR,” PR is a term that gets tossed around in business without consideration of its purpose or strategic importance. Once you layer in the nuances and complexity of conducting PR in a specific industry, such as life sciences, biotechnology or pharmaceuticals, it’s no surprise that it loses its meaning.

That Christmas afternoon with my grandmother, I described PR as taking the things that a company or person wants to say to a particular audience and rolling them together in a way that the intended audience understands it immediately and takes enough of an interest that they will remember it and take some action as a result.

She looked at me for a long second. I was sure that I’d struck out yet again.

Then she said, “So, you’re a storyteller. That’s nice.”

Bingo. She got it. It’s not rocket surgery, people. It’s just finding a way to communicate facts and information in a way that’s compelling. It’s finding a way to tell a story that might be remembered.

If you’re in life sciences marketing, like me, you should figure out (or find out) how to tell a better story. If you do that, then people will start listening. If you’re good at it, then they will start paying attention. If you’re really good at it… I mean really, really good at it… then maybe even your grandmother will listen.

Follow @EClausen for more about Life Science PR.