There are a lot of misconceptions about PR – and as PR professionals, we frequently encounter people who have no idea about the field we’re in. Some think it’s all glitz and glamour; others think PR professionals write ads. Others think we have control over what journalists write about our clients.
Here’s debunking some of these popular myths: We ask our PRecious leaders to share something most non-PR professionals don’t know about PR.
PR is certainly no 9-to-5 job and there are a couple of reasons for that. Most importantly, we are consultants and an extension of our clients’ communications and management teams. Therefore to some extent, we have to work alongside their hours and expectations. Another important aspect is that the global news cycle in an always-on-world doesn’t really ever stop. And last but not least, we have to accept that as communications consultants, we are in the professional services industry, where our time is one of our key assets with a logical consequence of maximizing those hours. Of course many of these things are seasonal (earnings season for financial media or the beginning of the year for tax consultants), other things are a matter of self discipline and company culture and credo – what is acceptable vs. expected in terms of working extra hours. My tip – like for any profession – make sure that you’re passionate about what you’re doing or your job will just feel like dragging your work…
Lars Voedisch, Founder & Managing Director, PRecious Communications
A phrase often associated with P.T. Barnum, except he wasn’t trying to promote industry and world-changing AI/SaaS/tech platforms, mobile apps and the like. He was trying to sell circus tickets – where notoriety drove brand recognition, hype, and popularity, all of which presumably resulted in sales.
There’s some truth to the statement “all publicity is good”. Having Trump in the news previously, even with negative publicity, helped with visibility and searchability. The same holds true for a lot of reality TV as well. Inversely, the more obvious examples include Enron type situations where reputations have been eroded beyond a salvageable point. There’s Boeing, whose reputation took a hard hit following the series of 737 Max crashes, and would take years to recover from it. Or even cancel culture, where the impact is immediate with longer term recovery prospects daunting.
A good PR team can go a long way in helping turn a good crisis into opportunity, or have a longer term brand recovery plan. In this crazy world we live in, where an Elon Musk tweet can create or eliminate billions of dollars in financial markets, all publicity may not be good depending on the perspective of your stakeholders. However, brands must have a longer term view towards reputation.
Prayaank Gupta, Vice President, Growth & Innovation
Public Relations is about persuasion; about building mutually beneficial relationships, about advancing good agendas, about story-telling. But it is also about building trust. So, while the going gets tough in the face of a crisis or negative news, it is still important to communicate and actively engage with all key stakeholders, including one’s own employees. A lot of organisations struggle with that and the PR department becomes the fall guy in the eyes of both the internal and external audience.
In our industry, we do business in a provocative economy but then as the saying goes, a tall tree catches much wind. The PR profession seems to always attract unwarranted attention and that could be due to how little people understand about our jobs. Maybe, it’s a clarion call for the industry to come together and do a better job of public relations and awareness building for themselves.
Rajiv Menon, Practice Head, Edge
Most of the time, outsiders only see the final result of campaign development that can be many months in the making : that five minute interview with our client’s CEO on a regional business news channel.
What they don’t see is the many hours of work that goes into the preparation to get that opportunity – the many messaging sessions with the client on what to say and why, defining who we want to tell it to, and figuring out the best medium for it. What is unseen are also the many tries refining the story so that it is newsworthy enough for the broadcaster, or the rehearsal sessions to get the story told by the CEO just right. All that effort just for five minutes on a broadcast channel that might or might not be recorded and replayed on social media.
But we have seen results that have made those weeks and months worth it: At PRecious, we’ve heard of how clients have received calls from investors after a broadcast interview, or when potential business partners have written in to ask for future collaboration. So yes, it’s true that it takes a lot of time for just a short piece, but these are not wasted hours and designed with real business impact in mind.
Clarence Lim, Practice Head, INC
PR does not revolve around advertisements. But as PR professionals, we can recommend an advertising partner. We don’t produce radio jingles – but we can connect companies to the right radio stations. We don’t ask journalists to write stories for our clients; rather, we pitch stories, and collaborate with these journalists when they deem our pitches news-worthy.
PR is all about persuading our external or internal audiences using unpaid or earned methods. We want to cultivate trust, after all. PR professionals are storytellers who craft compelling narratives based on our clients’ strategic communication objectives and the specific target markets they want to reach.
Kiranjeet Sidhu, Client Services Director, Malaysia
Contrary to popular belief, PR is not a glamorous career. Sure, there may be perks once in a while – like free tickets or access to red carpet events – but that is not all there is to it. What most non-PR professionals don’t know is that we have to deal with a lot of coordination between clients and the press. Interviews can get pushed back indefinitely due to the media’s and clients’ conflicting schedules – and this can get stressful at times. We have to do extra coordination at times when issues pop up: Sometimes, journalists misspell the names of executives, or capture the wrong information, so we have to get them resolved fast.
The job nature of PR demands adaptability – and we have to manage expectations of both media and our clients. It is a job that constantly requires prudence and quick wit. While PR may be challenging at times, a career in PR is definitely one of the most dynamic and rewarding careers – I get to learn something new everyday from our diverse clients and team.
Busakorn Srisongkhroh, Thailand Market Lead
Most people, brands and companies think that PR campaigns need to be big and extravagant all the time. However, they couldn’t be more wrong. PR is actually something very basic: It boils down to the fundamental art of communication. We actually do PR everytime we talk to our friends, family, and relatives – who serve as our “stakeholders”. We need to understand our stakeholders – their characteristics, preferences, what they want and what they need to hear. PR does not stop once the message is delivered; we need to try to understand our stakeholders and ensure that they understand our message, too.
PR is all about relationship-building, so brands should strive to be more human and personal in the way they deliver the message. Simple gestures – like spelling journalists’ names correctly – can go a long way in media relations.
Joyce Rodwina, Indonesia Market Lead
Inspired by this post? If you are a startup or a corporate and are looking to build trusted relationships with your key audiences, get in touch with us to expand your company’s PR and communications game. Let’s push creative boundaries together.