“So, remind me, what is PR again?”
“Oh, it’s what Samantha from Sex and the City did, right?”
These are questions you’ll be all too familiar with and will have almost certainly come across, if like me, you’re working in PR. This is because most people —my family and friends included (sorry Mum and Dad) — have no clue what PR is.
So, for the amusement of those who work in PR and for those who really don’t know but would like to, let me put to rest some of the most common PR myths and give you the low-down on what we really do in the mysterious world of comms…
Myth 1) It’s all glamour, partying and no work
A lot of people’s first impression of PR came from watching Samantha Jones on Sex and the City – mine included. It’s on TV that PR is made to look like a career that’s full of crazy events, wining and dining and partying with celebs. All in all, it looks pretty easy.
However, in reality, for most PR professionals this couldn’t be further from the truth. While I’ll be the first to admit partying in NYC like Samantha sounds like fun at first, this TV portrayal is extremely one-dimensional and requires minimal brain power. In fact, when you really think about it, it sounds – dare I say it – a little monotonous.
There’s so much more substance to a career in PR. I can confidently reassure you that the real-life version is even better than the TV version and requires a huge amount of both creativity and strategic thinking.
Myth 2) PR = press releases
There’s not one easy answer as to what PR professionals do, and the press release is just one tool of many in the PR toolkit. Whilst it is one of the most common ways we communicate our clients’ stories and news to the relevant media, we do a lot more than simply send them out.
PR professionals do everything from brainstorming new creative campaigns, research and stunts, pitching to the media, writing articles attributed to CEOs, managing events and engaging with the social influencers you see on YouTube and Instagram. No one day is the same.
What’s more, as an industry PR is currently going through a period of change. We’re at a point in time in which some believe the death of the press release is just around the corner. The lines are blurring as PR agencies become integrated more broadly with marketing. They’re now not only offering your basic comms but SEO, social media expertise and video content too.
Myth 3) PR is basically sales
PR is most definitely not sales and it’s a stretch to say that’ll directly generate them (at least, in most cases). However, what good PR can do is ease the efforts of a sales team. PR aims to generate greater brand awareness by making sure a company is talking and talked about in the media and by the general public. It means that when a sales team approaches cold or warm leads, they’ll already recognise the company as a credible one or have heard about them.
While it can get tedious busting these myths, admittedly even I struggle to sum up in a nutshell exactly what I do as a PR professional to those that ask. A career in PR is varied, no one day is the same and the scope of work is constantly expanding.
Ultimately however, PR is about creating positive brand perception in the media, thinking creatively and strategically, writing well and building great relationships with the journalists and influencers you talk to. It’s as simple as that…