10 Common Misconceptions About PR

Public relations has been mistaken for different things over the years. But what exactly is PR? This blog challenges popular beliefs about this concept that are actually wrong.

Public Relations(PR) is a phenomenon that has existed for many years, and in turn, has been interpreted in different ways. Essentially, it is about communicating with all interested stakeholders in a bid to achieve mutual goals. According to the Public Relations Society of America, Public relations can be defined as a strategic communication process that builds mutually beneficial relationships between organizations and their publics. It is important to remember that PR evolves with new technologies and developments.

However, there are certain things that PR  is not, despite how much it has evolved. Below are the most popular misconceptions about this concept. 


  1. Public relations professionals manipulate the truth.

A lot of people believe that practicing public relations means you are good at manipulating people and telling them what they want to hear. The common reaction PR professionals get is an assumption that they know how to twist situations into what it is not. 

The Reality: Even though PR professionals must know how to be diplomatic, it does not necessarily mean that they are deceptive. Public relations values honesty, and a true professional never forgets how important it is. 

Moreover, a relationship built on lies never lasts. Brands must be straightforward with their audience to establish trust and loyalty. If they fail to do this, they stand the risk of getting exposed for their deceit. While effective PR involves strategic communication, it should never compromise honesty or integrity. For example, if a brand releases faulty products, the best PR move is to admit the fault and work on solving it. If the company lies about the situation, it will lose loyal customers when they find out the truth. It will suffer a dent in its reputation, which it may never be able to recover from.  


  1. To do PR, you have to be a big brand and use only celebrities.

Due to the popular trend of business giants having celebrity endorsements, it is easily assumed that this is the only effective way to build a relationship with your audience. Even though small companies can do PR effectively, the average consumer does not acknowledge this fact. 

The Reality: Whether big or small, every organization can execute a PR campaign effectively as long it follows due process. In fact, it is more damaging if a small brand believes it does not need PR. As long as you have customers or suppliers, you need PR to communicate with them strategically. If you have a clothing brand, you can connect with fashion accounts that have small, dedicated communities and include them in your campaign. This will increase your brand credibility and give you a new customer base. Surprisingly, this may be more effective than using big celebrities as these small accounts already have a community that is interested in your kind of product. 


  1. PR is only about collaborating with the press. 

While working with the press is an important part of PR, there are a lot of other activities PR involves. If one neglects these other aspects and only focuses on tools like press releases, it would be losing out on the other benefits it can bring to the brand. 

The Reality:  PR is not only about working with the press. It involves other activities like social media management, content creation, advertising, media buying, and event planning. These activities ensure quality relationships are built and maintained with relevant stakeholders. Apart from this, these activities also help to position your brand in an appealing way and make your audience come back to you. 

For instance, if our PR agency is planning an event for your brand, our campaign would include influencer marketing, press kits, social media content, offline marketing and a pre-event to achieve maximum reach to the relevant audience. 


  1. PR is all about fancy events 

This has to do with the common belief that a brand just has to throw a fancy event once a year and call it a day for their PR strategy. 

The Reality: Event management and planning is a tool that can make a PR campaign more effctive. However, it is not enough to do when trying to build a relationship with your audience. It is also important to remember that a business cannot just throw an event for the sake of it. There has to be an end goal and target a specific demographic for it to be worthwhile. 

For example, a food company is launching a new product. Instead of throwing a party and inviting all the biggest celebrities, it would be better to invite stakeholders in the food industry. This will give the event more credibility and attention, which means a better brand reputation for the company. 


  1. PR campaigns do not get feedback from their audience

While it is tempting to believe this, there are many mediums through which a brand can measure whether their PR strategies are working. Public relations cannot be effective if the brand is just sending out messages without considering the receivers of the message. 

The Reality: PR can only work when your audience is interested in your strategies. If you are just launching activities left and right, and they have no impact on your audience, it can translate to a waste of money and decreased credibility for your business.  However, if you dedicate time to knowing what your audience wants, you can implement more effective strategies and achieve better results.

For instance, you can constantly run polls on your social media to know if the content you’ve been creating is something your audience resonates with. This helps you to be sure that communication is not just one way and that you are building beneficial relationships. 


  1. PR results happen overnight.

It can be easy to believe that one would see results as soon as one starts running a PR campaign, even though the opposite is the case. 

The Reality: anything that would bring results takes time, and PR is no different. To run a PR campaign, one must plan carefully, implement and monitor the campaign to ensure it goes smoothly. Building solid relationships with your audience might take a while, but it is a much better option than having no relationships with your audience. No one wants to feel like they are being used, and PR is a good way to make your audience feel like they matter to your brand.

A good way to constantly do PR efforts is to organize a programme or fund that gives back to the community. This will make your audience view your brand positively and have you at the top of their mind. 


  1. Once you have an excellent marketing team, you don’t need PR.

Many people assume that they do not need to make PR efforts once they have a solid marketing team. Therefore, they completely ignore PR and only focus on marketing.


The Reality: PR is about building mutually beneficial relationships with your audience, while marketing is about giving your audience a reason to choose your product/ service. The both of them should work together to bring maximum business growth. Therefore, retaining a team that can execute PR and marketing tasks is important. You can choose the option of having a few people dedicated to each function. PR cannot promote your products directly, so it is extremely important to prioritize these 2 functions. A good way to do this is to launch a campaign that promotes your products and crafts your brand narrative in an attractive way.  


  1. PR can be done by anyone

PR is sometimes said casually because it is assumed that anyone can handle a PR situation. However, a typical  PR situation is complex and requires a professional’s expertise to be handled smoothly.

The Reality: PR is a skill. If an inexperienced person takes on a PR situation, it can lead to disaster. Without the knowledge of how to measure audience reaction and quickly put out communication fires, a brand’s reputation can quickly dwindle. Therefore, only professionals should handle PR for your brand, as they have the qualifications, experience and know how to engage your community.

 For example, if a hospital has an incident with a patient, trying to handle it by themselves can quickly lead to the death of that business. The best response would be to hire a PR agency that can guide them on the best way to communicate with their audience. 


  1. PR is only for reacting to & fixing bad news.

In many instances, brands only use PR tools when they are in a scandal or solve an issue. This has led to the wrong belief that PR should only be done to get back into the good books of your audience.

The Reality: Even though fixing scandals is a function of PR, there are other things PR can achieve. PR can also be used to build relationships and position a brand positively. The best way to do this is to always communicate with your audience and anticipate possible problems. Doing this will minimize the amount of bad news that can come up. 

For instance, a clothing company can have a column in a popular fashion magazine to build credibility, such that they can capitalize on this credibility to dissipate false rumours and solve any issues that might come up. They can also track metrics like brand mentions, website traffic, and engagement on social media to see how the fashion community perceives their brand. 


  1. PR is an expense, not an investment.

It is easy to assume that planning launch events for new products or creating a corporate social responsibility program is unnecessary. Although they can be expensive, they are an investment for your brand and will bring credibility and a stronger reputation.

The Reality: As long as you do PR right, it is an investment because you are building your brand credibility and positioning it for success. It is better to invest in it than to be unable to leverage these relationships. Mutually beneficial relationships will bring so many benefits to your brand; the earlier you build them, the better. For instance, brands with charity organizations are viewed positively by their audience and are preferred to brands only focused on profit making. 


Every brand should remember that PR is about strategic and purposeful communication. Any activity that does not meet this criterion cannot be considered PR and should be scrapped in favour of an activity that brings results. In essence, effective PR is bound to benefit your brand in the long term and, ultimately, give you a loyal community.

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