Six Common Myths about PR debunked
Myth 1: PR is ‘spin’
In cricket, a skilled bowler puts spin on the ball to put it off its normally straight path, making it harder for the batter to hit. PR people are sometimes called ‘spin doctors’ on the assumption that we have the same sort of power to twist a story and put your opponents (critics, media) off their game.
In reality, we’re more like master batsmen; we protect your reputation by deflecting attacks with straight, clean and accurate responses. We work to have all the facts at our disposal so we can quickly correct false claims and misconceptions.
Myth 2: PR people are ‘paid liars’
Like other professions, comms/PR people are bound by a code of ethics and the scrutiny that brings.
While one of our key roles is to protect an organisation’s reputation, it’s never at the expense of the truth. In fact, sometimes our best advice to a client or manager may be to ‘front up and suck it up’. Dishonesty never works out well, and it’s not worth your reputation – or ours.
Myth 3: PR is an add-on to marketing
While it’s true that many organisations have their communications and marketing functions under one umbrella, the two are quite different. Your marketing and comms/PR people all want positive attention for your organisation, as well as widespread understanding of what you do and what you stand for.
But while marketing success can be measured via direct revenue, public relations is about positively managing the communication channels between a company and its stakeholders. Marketing is about revenue, PR is about relationships.
Myth 4: PR is about putting out press releases
Generally speaking, media management is only a portion of a PR professional’s job. A good comms person knows that less is more; they may recommend you don’t issue a press release, or perhaps hold off until you can present it in a way that’s more likely to get media coverage.
Of course, understanding media and being able to skilfully craft a strong press release are critical skills, but so are strategy, stakeholder relations, government relations, and much more.
Myth 5: PR people are information-blockers
This is a common belief among journalists who may be annoyed that they have to approach organisations via a communications person rather than going straight to the source.
Reporters often complain about the length of time it takes to get a response, but the reason is generally logistics, not conspiracy: making sure the information you are putting out is accurate and complete takes time.
Partial or incorrect responses are no use to anyone, so a PR professional makes sure they have the big picture and all relevant information before sharing it with media.
Myth 6: It’s all lunches and bolly, sweetie
Actually, this one’s true (we wish).