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Public Relations, also known as PR, is a $68.3 billion dollar industry in the United States. It covers everything from publicity to crisis management. A publicist is responsible for generating exposure for your company and brand. The PR industry has many myths and misconceptions surrounding the job itself, the limits of their influence, and the results of the PR campaign overall. These myths hurt these industries and lead to unfulfilled expectations by their clients. What are some of the biggest myths? Here are the biggest 5 myths surrounding these jobs.
Myth 1: All publicity is good publicity.
This is false. Historically, this may have been true for Vaudeville shows, however this doesn’t hold water today. Bad publicity is exactly that, bad. It hurts your reputation. It hurts sales and it doesn’t matter if it’s true or not. ‘It’s best to avoid any bad publicity if you can help it’ explains Lillian Olson, a business writer at Australia2write and Write My X.
Along the same lines, PR shouldn’t only be called in when your reputation has been hurt and you need to rebuild up trust. PR is an important part of prevention against having crises in the first place. It’s best to use a reliable firm all the time.
Myth 2: Public Relations is all about spin, slogans, and propaganda.
This is also false. Propaganda and spin are similar in that you are bending or adjusting the truth to fit your needs; however, propaganda is usually a tool of the state used in conjunction with censorship and fear, meant to control the masses. Good publicists avoid using spin, creating slogans, and propaganda techniques. These will not build trust in your brand and will only undermine what you are trying to achieve. PR is more about elevating a message, utilizing transparency.
Myth 3: Publicists have access to everyone.
Again, this is not the case. ‘A publicist doesn’t have a magic list or Rolodex where they keep the who’s who of the print world’ says Larry Smith, a writer at Britstudent and PhD Kingdom. They can’t just text, call, or email any editor, at any time, and get a story placed. It is not how PR works in the real world. A publicist can work closely with a journalist but that doesn’t mean all access to that publication. The newsworthiness of a story is all that matters, and if your story doesn’t fit that category or there is breaking news, then it won’t be placed. There is a saying within the industry: ‘It’s PR, Not ER’ While PR can do a lot for your brand, it can’t do everything, and it is worth bearing in mind.
Myth 4: Good PR will translate directly to sales.
If PR worked this way, it would be fantastic and so simple to have a successful business. However, it doesn’t tend to happen this way. PR can increase interest in your product or brand; however, it tends to do this indirectly, through increasing leads. PR helps to build trust in your product or brand. A brand needs to reshare and repurpose their PR coverage where possible to increase their sales. It is hard work and time.
It’s also important to note that PR results take time. It will not be an overnight change. PR strategies both take time to execute and to see any tangible results. If you invest in it continually over a long period, it will yield more sustainable, healthy results.
Myth 5: PR controls the media.
Too many businesses hold the belief that they can get journalists to write positive copy about their company, product, or brand. It doesn’t work that way, and your publicist will not try and strong-arm them into doing such things. A good publicist will provide accurate information, interesting story angles, and work with the media, rather than make demands or try and control what they write. It’s also prudent to mind what you say in interviews. Once it leaves your lips, it can’t be fixed by your publicist.
These are the most common misconceptions within the PR industry. Knowing what the PR industry can and cannot do is essential for any business interested in hiring a publicist. It’s also important to know what to expect before getting into the industry. We talked with 15 PRos about what they don’t tell you about working in PR and received answers ranging from topics around client expectations to different media placements.
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