Misconceptions about public relations have always been a reality for PR professionals. Most PR pros  are accustomed to explaining their jobs repeatedly to friends and family to no avail, and most have learned to accept that those close to us will never really understand our role. However, some of these myths are rooted in false perceptions and can mitigate understanding when trying to leverage PR to advance business goals..

Here are the top three misconceptions about PR that cause companies to fall short of their goals:

PR is like a light switch

One of the biggest mistakes a company can make is not giving PR time to work. A good PR partner will take time to do a deep dive into the business to understand goals, previous projects and key messages. PR programs take time and research to succeed and failure can be an important part of that process. Finding the right story that resonates with journalists, industry stakeholders, and customers requires trial and error to fine tune and earn coverage. 

These efforts help build momentum, which helps keep companies in the spotlight and top-of-mind for their target audiences. However, when economic pressure mounts, companies often look to PR and marketing early on for budget cuts. The problem is that once the momentum is halted, it takes time to restart. Taking a break from PR may save money in the short term, but can also have long term consequences including missed opportunities. PR frequently bolsters the success of other departments including business development and sales, so taking away that support can take some of the wind out of the sails of those teams. It’s important to treat PR as an investment in the long-term success of a company.

AI can replace the work of PR humans

With so much buzz around artificial intelligence (AI) tools, conversations about how they will change the PR industry have been exploding. Some companies are already adopting AI tools to write content for their websites. Some have sounded the alarm that the PR industry is on the chopping block. While AI could present challenges for some PR pros, it will more likely change the way we work. We explore this in depth in this blog

PR pros that leverage AI to increase efficiency by accelerating content creation and automating tasks have more time available for strategic thinking which can produce better results. Shortening the time needed to execute tasks enables PR teams to pursue more creative, ambitious projects. Companies who partner with PR agencies that are evolving with new technology will benefit from the increased time for strategy and complex projects. 

PR is just media relations, crisis communications and spin

Modern public relations has expanded far beyond the scope of traditional programs. It’s no longer enough to put out press releases and pitch reporters in hopes they will cover the story. The media landscape has changed and now, there are more PR people than ever competing for the attention of a shrinking number of reporters. This has led to agencies expanding offerings and trying new strategies. To deliver results for clients, PR pros have to be excellent writers, researchers and creative thinkers. We go beyond press releases and traditional media outreach to get clients featured on podcasts and position executives as thought leaders using platforms like LinkedIn. 

The best of us are definitely not spin doctors or fixers – rather, they are highly creative and efficient strategic thinkers. We work collaboratively with clients we’re proud to support on projects that change lives. We certainly support crisis communications, but we also provide counsel on how to avoid crises in the first place.

PR pros can bridge the gap and modernize the industry

As technology advances and the media landscape continues to change, it’s up to PR pros to help educate business leaders and decision-makers on the reality of the industry and the work we are able to do beyond traditional PR programs. Building understanding creates trust with clients and improves the perception of PR overall. It may even mean that we won’t have to explain what we do in our jobs to the people around us (but we can’t promise that).

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