For a public relations newbie like me, the world of PR can seem overwhelming. Hundreds of questions can be asked. Where do I start? What exactly is public relations? What do PR professionals do? But no worries! It’s not as confusing as it may seem. To understand what PR is, let’s first understand what PR is NOT.
Here are 5 common myths about PR:
1: PR is the same as marketing.
Wrong. Public relations is more than marketing. Marketing focuses on sales of products and customers. Public relations, however, builds and maintains relationships and is more of a lifestyle.
2: PR only deals with social media.
Wrong again. PR professionals deal with many more channels than social media. They can deal with research, industry relations, special events, and development (just to name a few). Some organizations may not even choose to use social media as part of their public relations. It all depends on how the organization wants to build its relationships.
3: PR is a 9-5 job.
Reality check. If you think this is true, you’re in for a treat. Being in PR means you need to keep an eye out on the news 24/7. You never know when a client may need you.
4: PR is simple.
PR is not as easy as it looks. PR is meant to help organizations thrive, so when practicing PR, you have to look at the organization as a whole. You need to use a variety of channels to create communication. In addition, being in PR requires transparency. If you don’t have the public trust, you don’t have anything. You may think you can do the PR for your company by yourself, but it’s a lot for one person to handle.
5: PR is the same as journalism.
PR and journalism can commonly get confused. Journalism gathers information and news for the public. It is primarily unbiased and only relies on facts. PR goes beyond what journalism does. It creates relationships to reach a goal for the organization and the information given can be biased.
So, what exactly is PR then you ask? Great question. PR is difficult to define because it covers such a wide scope. The definition of PR varies from person to person and can be complicated. So what do different sources say PR is exactly? The journal of Professional Communication and Translation studies says public relations represents, “a dynamic and evolving practice” (Cernicova, 2016, para. 1). The Public Relations Society of American defines it as, “a strategic communication process” (The Public Relations Society of American, Inc., 2009, para. 3). And the Chartered Institute of Public Relations defines PR as, “the discipline which looks after reputation” (CIPR Public Relations Centre, para. 5).
Even with these definitions, PR may still be hard to define. But if you’re a newbie like me, don’t let your lack of PR knowledge skew your thoughts on the field. When I came into the world of PR, I couldn’t tell you if the above PR myths were true or not. I knew PR was about creating and maintaining positive relationships with other companies and the public. Little did I know there is WAY more to PR than that. PR builds environments, is never generic, and can help move an organization toward its goal. PR is a lifestyle.
Cernicova, M. (2016, September). Redefining “Public Relations” in the 21st Century. Retrieved from https://sc.upt.ro/images/cwattachments/121_49f19911a51a4b7931ae627a59e1f0da.pdf
CIPR Public Relations Centre. What is PR? Retrieved from https://www.cipr.co.uk/content/careers-advice/what-pr
The Public Relations Society of American, Inc. (2009). About Public Relations. Retrieved from https://www.prsa.org/aboutprsa/publicrelationsdefined/#.WH09ivkrLIU