Common Misconceptions About Public Relations Pt. 1

After 35 years in the public relations business, we’ve noticed some common misconceptions about PR. In part 1 of our ongoing series, let’s clear up three of the most common misconceptions about public relations.

Misconception #1: All publicity is good publicity. 

Wouldn’t it be great if it were that easy? Though it certainly attracts attention, negative publicity can seriously hurt a brand’s reputation and sales. And that’s the kind of brand elevation you don’t need! Ongoing, proactive messaging in media and across your owned digital/social channels is a better way to build positive brand image and at the same time prepare to minimize the impact of any negative stories that might come along. There’s some truth to the old saying, “It can take 20 years to build a reputation and only five minutes to ruin it,” but that long-term commitment to engaging, positive content will be a potent dose of goodwill for your brand in difficult times. 

Misconception #2: Public relations is just like advertising.  

While both good PR and good advertising are dependent on a deep understanding of a client’s strategy and position in the market, achieving effective media coverage takes time to curate the storytelling, develop focused pitches, and socialize with reporters. Buying and placing an ad is immediate, and quantifiable for cost and scheduling. A PR pro cultivates reporter relationships and facilitates the supporting content and context the reporter needs to write the story. And unlike an ad, it’s the reporter that controls what goes into the story, not the PR firm. Leveraging existing relationships with reporters and publications—while monitoring other events and issues—to secure positive earned media coverage for clients is an ongoing and nuanced endeavor over timelines that are sometimes unpredictable. Placing an ad is controllable, direct, and highly measurable. So, is PR just like advertising? Far, far from it. 

Misconception #3: Public relations experts are only needed during a crisis. 

An effective PR pro conducts research to understand a client’s business, their goals and their strengths. Forging strong relationships between the client and reporters before a crisis occurs is paramount. A good PR firm is committed to building a strong communications foundation of positive media coverage and relevant content that regularly reaches all target audiences and stakeholders. It’s this prior and robust engagement with your PR firm’s experts that will place you in an even stronger position to handle a crisis or unexpected event should it arise.  

As you can see, public relations professionals wear many hats. Whether it’s fostering relationships with reporters, implementing a community relations program, planning for a crisis, standing up a blog or video series, or developing brand messaging that differentiates and elevates a client above its competition, our top-of-mind goal is to support and ensure excellent communications, at the right time, and aligned with a client’s business goals.

You can read part 2 of this series here.  

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