Most of those who are a part of the PR industry and even those who are not, often have several misconceptions about PR. I am touching upon several of these below that I have personally witnessed in the last two years that I have been in the industry:
Advertising & PR are the same: People believe that all publicity is Advertising and therefore since we are in the publicity business, we are in Advertising.
The most interesting manifestation was visible when one of the team at a clients’ told us that we were the first guys who he had met who were not doing advertising and were only pursuing PR. He told us to rethink our business and include Advertising as well. Oopsie… The rest of the meeting with him went into making him realize the difference between the both, which was rather embarrassing for us as we had been working with them for quite a long time.
Females in the PR industry: Another misconception associated with PR is that PR agencies only appoint good looking girls because they have more “pleasing power” and they attract more attention which helps in getting their work done… How skewed can this get???
I am told that some PR agencies also have strict guidelines about how to dress up professionally. It does not really make sense for a PR person to dress up in “attractively” just to seek attention. But, so deeply engrained are our biases that we believe that only drop-dead gorgeous girls can be good PR people. An academically minded professional who was given additional responsibility of PR was at the receiving end of her own colleagues who did not think that she did not look “PRish” enough for her job. She has since joined the civil services and as luck would have it, is in the Information Services…
I do not believe that only good looks can get the work done. What matters is that a professional needs to be presentable and in our business, interactive.
Because of this mindset, generally only “lookers” are appointed for the PR function by the corporates and PR agencies. Unfortunately, this brings with it another categorization – “dumb”.
Most media believes that most PR women are dumb. And I am forced to concede to a recent statement by Shashi Tharoor which said that “media cannot accept an attractive girl as a serious business professional”.
I wonder if girls will ever be recognized for their professional skills rather than what people believe that they are???
PR a revenue generating exercise: Clients often tend to believe that by undertaking a PR exercise, they can increase their revenues overnight. PR is NOT a sales function, though it assists in adding to the revenues in the long run.
PR highlights the USPs of the organization, creates perceptions which do not exist or shares information about new products and services. PR is a facilitator for information dissemination and perception moulding but not for sales. The best that PR does is brings the buyer and seller at a common platform, but it does not sell!!!
PR is all about having good media relations: Those who know PR believe that PR is not public relations but press relations – and now media relations. The perception is that PR professionals have to have good relations with journalists which can help them get good coverage in the media and most stories can be generated because of good relationships.
I believe that this is wrong… The only thing that matters when it comes to generating a good story is the content and information that we share and the way we are able to communicate it – in short, does it sound convincing to the journalist and whether he/she is convinced that this makes for a good story?