PR myths: Debunked

By: Grace Berndt

Public Relations is a diverse profession. There are many different elements to public relations which cause misunderstanding about what PR is and how it is carried out. Some of these misconceptions cast public relations in the wrong light and don’t accurately capture what PR is. Here are a few of the top myths about public relations, debunked.

“PR Twists the truth.”

Public Relations is commonly misconceived as spinning the truth, or even propaganda. Many believe that since public relations maintains the face of the company and is concerned with how the public perceives an organization, PR twists the truth for company interest. The opposite is true. Public relations focuses on communicating a brand's values with their publics. In fact, the Public Relations Society of America code of ethics requires professionals to conduct themselves professionally, with truth, accuracy, fairness, and responsibility to the public.

Public Relations strives to deliver strategic messages. They choose the best time and the best avenue to deliver critical communication points. PR develops key messages in a way their audience can understand based on what is most needed at the time.

“Any press is good press.”

Not necessarily. A large part of public relations is working with the media to communicate with their audience.  Since messages are not always delivered as they are intended, PR professionals are trained for crisis management.  This prepares them for the negative elements of any press. Crisis management is often put into effect when the company receives negative media attention. PR professionals know the media are likely to report on an organization when an issue arises, and they are prepared to combat that. Negative press cannot be made into good press and often causes more work for public relations professionals.

“PR is the same as marketing and advertising.”

PR is often viewed the same as marketing. However, although PR is similar and often partners with marketing, they are two different elements. Marketing is concerned with a product, and how best to promote it to the public. PR is concerned with the public and their perception of the product or organization.

Public relations differs from advertising because advertising is one-way communication, simply presenting a product to the public. Public relations is based in two-way communication and listens to an audience to create the most effective avenue to communicate.

“You only need one publicity breakthrough.”

People often think of PR as a “one hit wonder”, meaning you only need one good publicity break through and then you’re set. However, public relations is an ongoing process. PR continuously communicates and listens to the public, watches trends and keeps up with media to search for opportunities to initiate campaigns. It is essential for public relations practitioners to stay up to date so their organization can be relevant in a fast-paced, always changing environment.

Posted on April 16, 2019 .