The 3 Biggest Myths About Working in PR
Whether you’re trying your hand at managing the PR for your own company or looking for your first PR job, you’ve probably come across a story or 10 about the PR world and what a day in the life of a PR professional looks like.
And while, like any high-profile industry, PR has its share of craziness, there are a few big myths out there that just won’t die—and more importantly, aren’t exactly true.
Before you jump into the world of PR, it’s helpful to know what’s true and what’s not true at all—starting with these three worst offenders:
1. PR is All About “Spin”
There may have been a time and a place when companies put out messaging that misrepresented what was actually happening within the company—whether about their executives, products, or overall company health—but that’s definitely not the chosen approach anymore. With the backlash around the financial collapse, the rise of social media, and a significant decrease in the patience investors and clients have for company BS, most PR people are actually focused on the opposite: helping companies be as transparent as possible.
This goes for crisis situations, too. Yes, when things really hit the fan, PR teams need to find strategic ways to defend their brands. The most effective crisis communications strategies I’ve seen (and helped execute), however, have always revolved around getting to the bottom of what happened, making sure all relevant internal parties are briefed, and then sharing what went down—and how the company is going to fix it—with everyone involved.
2. There’s Such a Thing as “Guaranteed Coverage”
A reporter can agree to an interview, conduct the interview, edit the interview, get the interview approved by his or her editor, and schedule the interview for that week’s publication—and there’s still a chance it may never see the light of day.
I’ve seen so many entrepreneurs, executives, and PR newbies get super excited at a “yes” from a reporter, only to be devastated when the piece never airs. Keep in mind: There are so many things that can impact whether or not your story is going to run—like breaking news, editorial scheduling, and higher-up publication execs that put the kibosh on it.
So while you may have secured your first interview, don’t call your investors until you actually see it go live. And if you’re ever looking to bring on a PR agency and it guarantees you a piece in the New York Times, be wary.
The best way to up your chances of getting that interview published? Building strong, human relationships with the reporters covering your company.
3. Any News is Good News
Many people think that making the news—no matter the reason—is great, because it draws attention to your company, but this is not even close to being true. I can tell you, from the inside of some major companies going through some major crises, those execs would have happily traded in their front-page status for a whole lot of nothing if it was possible.
Brands live and die by their reputations, and a really bad crisis can impact the company for years (Lehman Brothers, anyone?). Sure, there are absolutely ways to show great leadership, customer service, and transparency during a crisis—but since a company can make headlines for those things without the crisis, I’d suggest opting for the less dramatic option.
If you’re interested in jumping into PR—or any industry, for that matter—my best advice is to spend some time with someone who lives and breathes it. Not only will he or she be able to dispel the industry myths, you’ll gain an authentic understanding of what to leverage, what to keep an eye out for, and what’s just plain ol’ BS.
Alex Honeysett is a Brand & Marketing Strategist and the creator of The Pitch Course, an in-depth, self-paced online course that teaches entrepreneurs how to find, pitch, and land speaking gigs, guest blogs, and podcast interviews. After spending nearly a decade leading communications strategies for multimillion dollar brands and startups in NYC and London, Alex now teaches entrepreneurs how to message and promote their own businesses, human-to-human. Alex's articles have been featured in the Daily Muse, Forbes, Inc., Mashable, DailyWorth, TIME, and Newsweek.More from this Author