As often as we say that PR isn't magic and that PR professionals aren't magicians, the more you think about it, we actually are.
Whether you'd like to admit it, we are all lovers of magic on some level. It triggers all sorts of emotions -- the mystery, confusion, awe and even frustration when you are determined to figure out how a particular illusion was performed. At first glance, most magical illusions seem simple, with most getting the standard "Oh that's easy. I could do that!" reaction.
But when you are given the playing cards, the magic metal rings, the three shells and a pea or knotted rope, the illusion doesn't seem as simple, does it?
That's because there are a lot of moving parts -- as well as a lot of practice and expertise -- that goes on in the background to make those illusions seem so simple.
Now, do not confuse illusions with PR spin, please! Illusions are more about making something complex look easy for anyone to do at a glance, while PR spin is just dishonest and sketchy.
It is easy for those not in PR to read various stories in newspapers, magazines and blogs and say "I could place a story like this" or "well, if my competitor/partner can get a story like this, it can't be that difficult."
True, sometimes getting an amazing profile story or mention in a high profile publication is just plain luck. The reporter stumbled upon the company or product and personally fell in love with it. Or timing just worked in their favor.
But more times than not, there is quite a bit that goes on behind the scenes -- sometimes for months -- before that one story publishes. Just like a magician practices shuffling and cutting cards for hours a day to make that one performance flawless.
So while we tend to say "PR isn't magic" or we (PR pros) "aren't magicians", in fact, we are very much so. Just no one sees all the work that goes into it all. And that's the point.
PR professionals can spend a good amount of time reading the news and helping correct inaccuracies on behalf of their clients. But quite a bit of inaccuracies are actually related to the job itself and people's misconceptions around what we do for a living.
So we asked top PR pros, "What is the biggest PR myth you've had to fight (or continually fight)?" Here are their responses:
"The biggest myth has always been, and continues to be, that PR happens over night. Or that having a 'relationship' with a particular journalist, blogger or outlet = instant coverage. It doesn't work that way."
"Many people still believe that the purpose of PR is to help increase their bottom line and users/customers. This is slightly true but the real purpose of PR is to reinforce your brand equity and help increase awareness in the marketplace."
"The biggest myth or misconception I see about public relations is that we're here to spin or cover up information when in reality, we push to ensure information is communicated effectively, clearly and at the most opportune time for both our consumers and the companies we represent. Most of the time, we are advocating to communicate information, not the other way around."
"That it's easy to get media coverage in national daily media outlets, such as the NY Times or WSJ. Understandably so, clients often believe their products/services are newsworthy 'just because.' They don't understand that a major news hook is needed to even get the reporter to listen, let alone include them in an article. It's a continuing process to educate clients on how PR and the media work."
"The most insidious PR myth is spin. More specifically, the idea that with the right spin fundamental business or product issues or actual facts already in the public eye can simply be made to disappear."
Should this be a press release or a blog post?
This is a question that executives and communications teams alike ask on a regular if not daily basis. And it can be a highly debated topic depending on a variety of factors.
Historically, press releases were critical to getting any company news out to the public. You issued a standard press release for earnings, mergers & acquisitions, product announcements, customer wins, etc. It went across "the wire" into the hands of key reporters.
But then the blog post was created.
Google was the first major company to truly embrace the blog post. The company deliberately chose to forego press releases (with the exception of where it is required like earnings and mergers & acquisitions) and put all of their effort into blogging. And it has been an extremely successful and cost-effective decision.
There are pros and cons to both methods, and in fact, there are a variety of other newer formats -- like LinkedIn and Medium -- to consider as well. Many companies choose to use a mixture of these platforms and that's probably the right approach. Not all company news requires a press release but some news needs more reach than what your blog may be getting at this point.
Whatever approach your team chooses to take, the key is to be consistent.
There are so many misconceptions around PR.
PR also doesn't mean you just throw together a press release, distribute it across a newswire and expect coverage to appear. With the myriad of communications channels available today (Facebook, Medium, Twitter, etc), the press release is far from the only checkbox you need to complete for a success PR campaign. And sometimes, depending on your business objectives, it isn't even a channel you should use at all.
Whether a long-term, on-going communications campaign or a quick product launch, it is critical to have your communications team work closely with the appropriate stakeholders to understand what the business is trying to achieve with this particular program. That way, they are creating the most efficient and effective communications strategy to meet those objectives.
And that may mean no press release.
Welcome to ROAMings, a compilation of thoughts and musings about the PR and media industries. This is an opportunity to discuss the “here and now” of the industry, interesting events or case studies, pivotal moments that affect how we approach PR, etc. It isn’t about brand loyalties or preferences -- and we will not be publishing self-promotional materials or talk about our clients in this setting -- but how those brands, individuals and events are leveraging (or in some cases abandoning) PR.