Perhaps the biggest misnomer about working in public relations is having to constantly fight the stereotypes surrounding this industry. While everyone has their own opinions about the individual components that makeup PR, there are certain universal “myths” that come with the territory. Here are some of the most common misconceptions that PR pros often have to wade through:
The “all fun and no work” mentality. The myth that PR is an easy job runs rampant on college campuses, and I blame it on the TV shows perpetuating the stereotype of the PR professional as someone who attends glamorous parties, events and movie releases. This is definitely not the case. While a small percentage of PR is actually spent attending events, it also requires extensive outreach and networking. More often than not, a typical day for a PR pro is spent at a desk writing, brainstorming, sending emails and making follow-up calls. That’s not to say that this business is boring (it certainly isn’t here, that’s for sure!), just that the glamour can often present itself in rolled up sleeves and behind-the-scenes hard work!
Summers are slow. One of the many myths about PR is that during the summer months, you’ll find us taking half days and hitting the beach. It’s actually just the opposite. News doesn’t stop and journalists are hard at work 24/7; there isn’t a time where we can magically pitch a story and it’ll be published right away. In fact, journalists can be so impacted that PR pros have to fight to get their attention by digging deep to showcase the newsworthy components. We often need to step back, ask hard questions about our approach and temper expectations of clients, bosses and team members.
Public relations and advertising are the same thing. This is probably one of the biggest myths surrounding public relations. While the best efforts combine both to create a well-rounded campaign, the differences are vast. Most advertising consists of a paid media component, while public relations is earned media – meaning PR pros are convincing (read: pitching) reporters and editors to write a positive story on their client, product or issue, while ads pay to promote a client or its products. This means a whole lot of work for PR pros – soliciting third-party endorsements with no means for compensation is a challenge, but also very rewarding when it comes to fruition.
The attitude that connections trump quality. When it comes to securing coverage for clients, the myth that we’re “name-droppers” or we only rely on our connections is simply not true. Don’t assume that just because a PR pro is friends with a reporter or organization, they will automatically write about your client. Good stories must stand on their own, and it’s up to us as public relations professionals to craft that story so that they want to cover it. Don’t get me wrong, contacts are always good (and honing those relationships are a major part of our job!), but that’s only helpful if you have a useable story or release that their audience will be interested in.
Only extroverts succeed in PR. This one is simply not true. Yes – PR is a people profession, and yes, introverts don’t generally do well in large groups – but PR is also about storytelling, delivering the message and connecting the dots for people. Introverts tend to put a lot of time and energy into these important aspects of the job. Take it from Catherine Fisher, a communications team member at LinkedIn, who shares her perspective of being an introvert in a career dominated by extroverts.
What are some myths that you’ve encountered in your PR job? Drop us a line and let us know!