PR myths busted
Myth #1 PR stands for Press Release, right?
PR stands for Public Relations. For some, a large part of that service is researching, writing and pitching press releases to journalists, but it’s certainly not the full scope of service.
The truth is this common misunderstanding is the PR industry’s own fault. We’re an industry of communication professionals who have been terrible at communicating what we do.
My experience of PR has always been far more than press release writing. In a day I can be managing a crisis, writing a whitepaper, developing a social media strategy, conducting research for a new business pitch and coming up with ideas for a product launch.
Myth #2: Anyone can write
This one makes my blood boil.
It’s true that most people write daily – emails, tweets, reports – but writing as a professional requires the same amount of experience, training and skill that any other profession demands.
Most people can kick a football. Not everyone is paid millions to do it for Manchester United.
If you think it’s easy to write a feature article or press release and encourage a journalist that it’s good enough for them to copy and paste it under their by-line then go for it. You don’t need a PR consultancy.
Myth #3: We’re all Bullsh*t artists and spin doctors
Some are. Most aren’t.
I like to swear, but I’m certainly no Malcom Tucker. I like fashion, but I’m no Edina Monsoon.
There is a view that PR is a dark marketing art, but really it’s just about communicating effectively and encouraging an emotional connection.
I was once told that while PR can’t polish a turd, it can roll it in glitter. To me that’s one big steaming pile of a lie. A turd polished or sparkling is still a turd and no amount of PR can change that.
Myth #4: PR is glamourous
This is an important one to bust for anyone considering a career in PR.
Some people go into PR expecting it to be endless parties, rubbing shoulders with celebrities and popping champagne corks. It’s not. There are parties – mostly you’re working at them and they can be a hard slog with you falling into a heap afterwards and nursing blisters. There can be celebrities – but you’re managing them, which can be a little like herding egotistical sheep and very occasionally there is champagne, but it’s hard bloody earned.
Myth #5: PR is cheep
It’s less expensive than advertising, but it’s not cheap.
PR is a full-time job so companies must either hire a full-time, in-house PR professional or outsource to an agency, who will handle the PR on a company’s behalf. Either way, your monthly costs will be in the thousands, not in the hundreds of pounds.
It also depends on the PR you need. Crisis management, for example is a premium service as it’s an on-demand specialised offering.