Everyone is familiar with the term public relations. Most people can give their own interpretation of what it means. The Public Relations Society of America defines PR as a strategic communication process that builds mutually beneficial relationships between organizations and their public.
Unfortunately, in most cases, the role of public relations is misunderstood. Here are six of the most common myths about PR:
1. PR can do anything: publicists can do a lot, they’re not magicians. Just because publicists are great communicators doesn’t mean they can guarantee your brand will get a front-page spread in the New York Times. Nor can their strategies shield bad practices from becoming public. What PR can do is help guide a business’s reputation along the way, helping it avoid landmines and securing great media coverage to build customer interest and loyalty while hopefully gathering earned media along the way.
2. PR is spin: First, let’s define spin. Spin means adjusting the truth to fit your agenda. But that can’t be the case if PR is there to facilitate trust in a brand. What PR is about, in actuality, is elevating a message through transparent and engaging ways. Not just doctoring up a concept to suit a brand’s needs nasty tactic consumers can smell a mile away.
3. PR is only needed during a public relations crisis: PR is critical during crisis management, certainly. In these cases, PR companies step to “staunch the bleeding” as it were and rework a damaged reputation. However, that’s not the only time you need to be implementing PR efforts. In fact, an important measure to prevent the need for crisis management is to have a PR team all the time. With their guidance, you can avoid trouble in the first place.
4. PR results happen instantly: If every PR decision saw immediate results, wouldn’t we all be working in the public relations industry? Instead, like anything, most PR strategies take time both to execute and to see any tangible results. For instance, say a glowing story comes out in a big publication on a brand owner. First, that story has to get into the hands of the publication’s readers. Then those readers have to actually read it. Then, often a story has to build buzz. Next, the information the readers took in has to manifest in buyer behavior. Perhaps, shopping with that brand, or signing up for a newsletter. PR is a long game, and as such, it can develop much more sustainable, healthy results as you invest in it continually over time.
5. PR is marketing: Public relations and marketing are often used together to enhance a client’s brand. However, they are not the same thing. The main difference is about the final goal. Marketing aims to sell a product or service, while public relations builds mutually beneficial relationships with key audiences. Public relations creates an environment that fosters marketing efforts.
6. All publicity is good publicity: It’s widely claimed that all publicity is good publicity, but this couldn’t be further from the truth. Bad press can seriously damage a business’ reputation and hurt sales in the long run. As the saying goes, mud sticks.