I suppose this happens with any industry, but there are some pretty persistent ideas about PR that are either just plain wrong or completely misunderstood. We hope you’ll help us tackle PR’s PR problem by pushing back whenever you hear these five annoying clichés about public relations.
Any Press is Good Press
Ugh. This doesn’t even make sense, but lots of people really believe it. The job of public relations professionals is to develop a positive relationship between the brand and the public. This is done by sharing authentic stories that create a connection between people and the brand. Negative news can damage this relationship and turn people off. As an example, just this week, Sea World made a major change to its business model, ending its Orca breeding program and shows after seeing attendance plummet as the result of bad press press.
PR is About Being in the Right Place at the Right Time
This one is actually true, but not in the way most people think. PR pros do need to get their messages to the right place at the right time, but it isn’t a matter of luck. Quite the contrary, it is a matter of using data to determine what is the right place and the best time. Brands don’t wait around for opportunities to come to them. They identify where the opportunities will be and get there first.
The Impact of Public Relations Can’t Be Measured
While this may have been more or less true in the pre-digital era, it is no longer the case. Modern PR technology is capable of measuring the impact of press mentions, campaigns and owned content in terms of website traffic, lead conversions, and ultimately revenue.
Journalists Hate PR People
This one could be made true with a few modifiers. Journalist do hate ineffective, annoying PR people. On the other hand, they love PR pros who provide them relevant, interesting news and the sources and data to bring the story to life. They appreciate PR teams that don’t fill their email box with junk, but rather make contact only when the story is a good fit for their publication, audience and writing style.
PR is All About Spin
“Spin” maybe was a thing, but if so, the internet killed it. The public now has unlimited access to information. They can easily find news stories, product reviews, brand comparisons, company ratings and more. The wall between people and the brands they choose has eroded. Smart PR professionals take advantage of this, using transparency and personality to build a deeper relationship with buyers. Sure, we have to respond to negative information, but the most effective responses are genuine. People will forgive missteps if problems are addressed openly.
PR is much more of a data-driven, carefully planned and thoughtful exercise than people give it credit for. So the next time you’re at a party and someone asks you what you do, set them straight if they respond with one of these trite notions.