Myth 1: PR is only for the bad times.
Public Relations can serve a variety of purposes in a marketing toolbox, but its main one is tactfully building and managing a brand’s reputation. A good general rule of thumb in the PR world is that consistency builds trust in a product or service, and that trust is what draws in and ultimately motivates customers to keep coming back. This customer loyalty is especially crucial when a brand receives negative attention.
Crisis management is often misconstrued as a reactive process, but in reality, it’s a very proactive approach. PR professionals are constantly working to help create and maintain a positive reputation for their clients in ways that include highlighting people and initiatives that help drive the brand’s narrative, spreading the word about important client news and programs or planning events that help bring together members of the client’s audience and community. All of this work to build a trustworthy brand image helps ensure that, if the brand has a misstep, customers would still be willing to back it up and stand beside it in times of turbulence.
Myth 2: PR has no value because it’s not quantifiable.
Unlike many industries today, the currency of public relations is something that can’t always be easily translated into tangible numbers. A public relations professional deals in credibility and strength of relationships rather than dollars and cents. However, there are a few different ways to measure the value of a PR strategy, such as the amount of media coverage secured surrounding a client’s product or service.
But these measurements are far more valuable than a dollar amount can represent, because the coverage is earned — not purchased. The third-party validation that comes with earned media adds an extra layer of credibility that can’t be bought. So while there aren’t always hard statistics to determine the success of a campaign, what you do receive is far more valuable: trust. Earning and maintaining the trust of the public is absolutely priceless.
Myth 3: PR stands for Press Release
Press releases are to public relations as a Happy Meal is to McDonald’s: while it’s a popular item, it’s certainly not the only thing on the menu. Likewise, press releases and media relations are only a small part of what PR is or what it can do. Public relations encompasses reputation building and management. It’s developing an internal communication plan, a crisis management plan or a social media strategy. It’s engaging in content marketing, event planning, relationship building and influencer marketing. It’s generating ideas to grow your reach, identify and segment your audience and target them precisely.
PR professionals can bolster your image by booking you at events and entering you in awards, and they can cement your reach and position by a shrewd combination of earned, owned and, in some cases, paid media. Can your press release do all of that?
Myth 4: Anyone Can Do It
Just because you can drive a car, fill it with gas or even change the oil, doesn’t mean you can fix a broken transmission — not when the alternative is using a trained mechanic! Public Relations is the same way. You may be able to market your brand effectively, but if PR is new to you, bringing in an expert can get you better results with a lot less hassle.
A successful PR approach requires a wide skillset that doesn’t just include writing press releases and pitching to the media. It entails creating a consistent brand by writing well, communicating strategically and effectively, building relationships with media, having extensive knowledge about your (and your client’s) industry, and engaging in audience identification and strategic targeting. And most importantly: it’s about having the time and resources to do all of those things.
Successful public relations efforts take more than just the few minutes you might have to set aside each day — it is a full-time, multifaceted job. So while you may want to do it yourself and bask in the blissful “I got us that coverage!” feeling, it might require giving up your day job to do so.