Public relations (PR) is a strategic communications process that influences, engages, and builds positive relationships that shape public perception and highlight the best aspects of your business.
But there are some myths about public relations that need to be debunked. Here are 10 of such PR myths:
10 PR myths to debunk today
Myth 1: PR is spin
What is spin? Spin means adjusting the truth to fit your agenda.
Truth: Public relations is all about elevating a message through transparent and engaging ways. Not just doctoring up a concept to suit a brand’s needs. Spin is short-sighted and unsustainable.
PR and advertising complement each other, but they certainly do not mean the same thing.
Myth 2: PR goes with “Brown envelopes”
This public relations myth claims that you must incentivize journalists or give them a “brown envelope” before they can publish your story.
Truth: Some media make certain demands before agreeing to publish a press release or company news.
But by pitching a good story, crafting the press release professionally, connecting with the media and making the right PR efforts, it’s certainly possible to get great media coverage without any incentives.
Myth 3: PR agencies are too expensive for small businesses.
Truth: Large-scale, high-profile PR agencies provide value for large corporations, but they don’t typically suit the needs of everyday businesses.
However, some PR agencies and PRCAN members are flexible and able to provide affordable services. You only need to ask and make your needs clear.
Myth 4: You have to be a well-known business to be great at PR.
Truth: Successful PR means different things to different businesses at different stages of their growth. Your business doesn’t have to be on prime-time television or the topic of household conversations to do PR well. Focus on attainable goals and the steps needed to get there.
Myth 5: Press releases “spray and pray.”
Another PR myth is that the best way to get media coverage is to blast your press release to every conceivable media and then hope for the best.
Truth: Rather than spray so many bullets and pray for one or two hits, it is better to use a more targeted approach. Many PR agencies and business owners adopt this “spray and pray” tactic. They grab a database of journalists and bombard them with press releases.
To most writers, this is a nuisance. It’s wiser to build real relationships with people in the media by sending thoughtful, personalized releases rather than a mass attack approach.
Myth 6: You need a “black book” of media contacts.
Truth: Contacts are always useful, but focus on the message before focusing on building contacts. Learn how to pitch your story, emphasizing the benefit it offers to a publication’s audience.
Be responsive and accommodating to journalists so that you gain a reputation of being easy to work with. This will help you build press relationships and get more coverage.
Myth 7: You can buy great PR in a newspaper or magazine.
Truth: This is called advertising. You can’t tell a journalist what to say or ask to check their copy before it appears in print, but you can seed the idea of a story by pitching story angles. If you want to control exactly what’s written about your business, you’re better off paying for advertorials or distributing marketing materials. This is a truth about PR.
Myth 8: PR is all about press releases and press conferences.
Truth: Public Relations is the deliberate, planned and sustained effort to establish and maintain mutual understanding and excellent communications between an organisation and its publics.
Clearly, PR goes far beyond press conferences and the traditional press release. Great PR requires strategic thinking and the use of a multiplicity of communications tools. The press release is only just one of them.
Myth 9: PR is the same thing as advertising, but less glamorous.
Truth: The fundamental difference is that advertising is directly paid for while public relations is earned. Advertising could be expensive and only exists for as long as you pay for the ad to run. PR is about wielding positive influence—it can be accomplished through inexpensive means and doesn’t have an expiration date.
Myth 10: Good products don’t need PR
Truth: You’ve heard the old saying “This thing sells itself.” And sure, a great product is already well ahead of the competition when it comes to sales.
But the truth is, nothing sells itself. Every product or service requires public relations to reach out to potential customers as well as build interest and trust with current users.
Ask Coca-Cola, Apple, GTB, Emirates and many other frontline brands.