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6 Perceptions of PR – are any of them you?

By Abby Walters, placement 

When it comes to public relations there are many misconceptions, to which most of us who don’t already work in PR have fallen guilty of believing. Whether it’s thinking that PR is just for women, and that PR actually stands for ‘press release’ to PR is all about schmoozing and is super glamorous!

We’d definitely argue that these misrepresentations don’t accurately represent the job, but they are certainly worth exploring…

  1. “PR means press release”

You guessed it; PR does not mean press release! PR stands for public relations, yet this is often mixed up. Many people are of the opinion that PR is solely writing press releases, or figuring out how to get a story in the news, but in reality it involves so much more.

Oh and it’s certainly not just about handing out leaflets! PR is a discipline that protects and maintains reputations for businesses and organisations, whilst gaining more understanding, support and positively influencing opinions and behaviours. It is also about developing expertise in different industries and working collaboratively with clients to contribute to their business or organisation.

  1. “Isn’t PR what Samantha Jones from Sex and the City does?”

My first impression of what it’s like to be a public relations professional came from watching Sex and the City, and I highly doubt I am alone on this!

PR was depicted as attending highflying events, or glamorous parties and charming people until you get to the top. However, it is clear that the television industry’s inaccurate illustration of PR has made it difficult for PR professionals to try and counter the false representation that’s portrayed.

Not only shows like Sex and the City, but Flack and the West Wing too, are all guilty of misleading viewers to believing that public relations requires minimal work. The reality, however, is that the characters on these shows are a completely inaccurate representation of PR professionals.

Very little work can be achieved if you are out shopping all the time or sipping on a Cosmo! Instead, to be successful in the field, you have to be dedicated and find what you do completely enjoyable, despite there being possible missteps along the way. It is clear that the depiction that TV and films create impacts the public negatively and has opened up a platform for those not in the industry to presume false truths about this type of work.

  1. “PR is all about charming your way to the top”

Another stereotype that is often associated with PR is that schmoozing your way to the top is the only way to gain success. Despite this adding drama to those programmes, it’s far from the truth, and again is a negative misrepresentation and not realistic of the professionals and industry.

Yes, PR has a focus on building lasting relationships but it also focuses heavily on how information is conveyed between individuals and the public. It is about building awareness, driving loyalty, improving reputation management, engaging new clients and developing trust, and it is this that PR professionals work tirelessly on.

  1. “PR people live the glamorous lifestyle!”

PR professionals of course can wear designer clothes and drive expensive cars if they wish however, Gucci loafers and YSL handbags definitely aren’t norm in the industry!

Often those in the PR industry choose to balance comfort with professionalism, which means trainers and comfies are always welcome in the No Brainer office!

Content creating and relationship building isn’t achieved without hard work, involving long hours and dealing with last minute changes. And who wants to do that in a pair of six-inch stilettos or a tightly buttoned shirt collar? Often many fail to notice that this is all done with creativity, professionalism, and a positive and result-orientated attitude.

  1. “PR is only for women”

Again, TV has not helped with this rampant myth. Despite the PR and communications industry still being predominantly dominated by females, specifically 66% of the industry is female according to the PR and communications census (2018).

However, this doesn’t mean that PR has no place for men! It is obvious that men do have a place in this field – our co-founders are both male! Believing the shows on our screens to be a true depiction can lead to an underrepresented male demographic and perspective.

  1. “There is no such thing as bad publicity.”

Wrong. Bad publicity is certainly possible, regardless of what the client’s goals are. Building a positive reputation for a client can take a lot of time and a lot of effort especially to do effectively and well. However, it doesn’t take much to destroy it.

A PR professional will be able to inform and advise the client on the corrective action to take, as they will have the best experience, tools and knowledge to mediate this crisis.

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