We’ve all seen movies and TV shows that depict publicists and make it all seem so easy. Schmooze here, put out a fire there, and have your cell phone surgically implanted. Here are five myths about public relations.
Any Press is Good Press
This is the most overused public relations stereotype, and the one that is also the most untrue. Ask Bill Cosby how much his current press is helping his career. The only news that’s good news is information that helps to advance your agenda.
Good press establishes you as an expert with the media, gets your story out to the general public and puts you or your business in a favorable light. Bad press can end careers, close businesses or get people sent to prison.
To say all press is good press is an oversimplification of complicated public sentiment. The phrase ‘no news is good news’ is better than ‘any press is good press’.
Public Relations Firms Can Guarantee Coverage
No matter the size of the market you’re in, there are always other stories to cover. It’s important to know what makes a story, how to pitch it – and most importantly when. With all the turmoil going on in the world recently, as well as here at home, there are lots of days when pitching a story doesn’t make sense. News producers and editors are competing with each other to cover breaking news and your pitch, even a good one, will be overlooked.
You should be wary of any PR professional that will guarantee coverage. While it’s true that any PR pro worth their salt will know if a story is good, to whom to send it and when, we can’t account for breaking news or just general journalistic apathy.
You Can Do It Yourself
Someone untrained in media relations can probably get some coverage around a big story – a new restaurant opening, a significant charitable deed, etc. But they likely won’t be able to get the sustaining coverage businesses need to stay relevant in the market; let alone skillfully deal with a delicate crisis situation. Public relations professionals have carefully maintained relationships with media, know how to angle a story and have the ability to craft a message that will benefit the business and help to mitigate any damage. They have spent years working closely with media, have established their credibility and have been a useful resource to them.
Press releases are useless
With the advent of SEO, the 24-hour news cycle and the ubiquity of social media, reports of the demise of the press release has been greatly overstated. A press release would be useful if its only purpose was to put all the necessary information in one place. But a press release does more than that, if written well it establishes the story’s credibility with the media. It shows professionalism, allows you to have all your information placed cogently in one document and gives you something tangible to send.
Public Relations is Only External
Your most important audience is the one that works for the company. Get them to buy into what they’re doing, and they’ll feel more invested, work harder and put out a better product. It’s important that a business owner’s relationship with their internal public is nurtured and treated with the importance that it deserves. To that end, a public relations professional can help craft messages, deal with internal communication and help business owners roll out new policies and programs in a way that will be more palatable to employees.
John Glynn | Senior Public Relations Account Manager