What Really is PR?

PR is the same as marketing!’

Nothing is harder than trying to explain this misconception about PR is especially to a person convinced they are right. This could easily turn into an essay explaining the distinction between the two but a simple Google search for anyone with this perception should convince them otherwise.

‘Public Relations is easy.’

Mem by Edelman Australia 
Now this is a conversation worth pursuing. One naturally assumes that having great writing and people skills automatically means you can do PR. This is false. It is worth noting that university degrees for this career run for 3-4 years, perhaps a strong indication that there is plenty to learn. Since PR is essentially centred on relationships, it is safe to call PR relationship experts in the industry/economic market as a whole. There are three types of relationships that need managing. The first is with persons within an organization, the second between the organization and their publics and lastly with the media.

There are a few other misconceptions that need pointing out. PR pros get news stations to run whatever story they want them to. What most forget is that news agencies are businesses that need viewership to thrive. This for them means more advertising. A journalist needs to be convinced by a pitch (which needs training and practice to write) what is in it for them. Your company came up with an amazing life changing product! So what? It takes PR pros to give a convincing answer worth reporting.

Also ‘PR is defined by the number of press releases a firm/ department churn out’. There are many more functions of PR than many know of. They are publicity, public affairs, lobbying, issues management, investor relations, development and fundraising, merchandising, community relations, counselling, employee/member relations, industry relations, media relations, marketing communication, special events and public participation, research, crisis management, CRS management, sponsorship management, brand building, reputation management and finally corporate identity and image management.

The sheer volume of what Public Relations entails makes it more complex than most make it out to be. There are many other misconceptions out there but it is the hope of the PR community that a paradigm shift occurs in light of this article explaining the main misconceptions about PR.

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