Now that I have spent a solid seven weeks working at a PR agency I have the experience required to write a post about something I have wanted to write about for a while: PR myths.
Let me first explain to what I am referring to. The world has a lot of misconceptions about what public relations is, mainly due to the media and TV shows. Being in PR and having gone to school for it and having done plenty of research beforehand, I had the general idea of what I was getting in to. The general public on the other hand, not so much. I just want to set the record straight.
1. Being in PR is not like being Samantha Jones from Sex and the City (I wish it was….).
Most movies and TV programs take the best out of every job and make it look so fantastic just to jazz up the characters. Now that I actually have a job in PR, I get so mad when I see movies where people have these glamourous jobs and they claim to work PR. I recently saw some stupid Lindsey Lohan movie called Just my luck and she was like in some junior position at a PR agency and when her boss got stuck in an elevator, she had to make a pitch to this big shot celebrity all by herself. She of course, made up some totally innovative ideas and got the client. NOT LIKE REAL LIFE AT ALL!!!
2. It’s not all about celebrities.
Every campaign does not involve a celebrity, in fact, most don’t. If you want to work in PR because you think you will get to meet Brittney Spears, think again.
3. It’s not all about free stuff.
Now even I was expecting something. A little promotional stuff, some perks. I know a girl who got a free phone, that’s about it. Clients aren’t handing out free stuff to their consultants, they’re already paying you! If you want free stuff, PR may not be for you. I am not getting designer handbags, and neither will you.
4. Drinks with clients rarely happens.
Again, another media misconception, but I was under the impression I would get to go to fancy restaurants and have martinis with clients after work. As an intern, this of course would never happen, but even the highly skilled employees don’t have drinks. First, you shouldn’t really mix business with alcohol…it’s a recipe for disaster. Second, who wants to go out after business hours. After 5 p.m. I want to go home, watch America’s Next Top Model, not do more work. Third, business meetings take place in conferences rooms, not at bars.
5. I do not compromise my integrity at work.
A lot of people think of PR and think of lobbying. Now I can’t speak for every person and every agency, but I am not doing unethical work. Most people wouldn’t stand for it these days with new social media technologies and the whole trend of transparencies. I’m not lying either, or stretching the truth to sell a story. The media are too smart for that. I’m not withholding information or doing anything sketchy. I am simply a relayer of information.
6. The media hate PR people
In my six weeks here I have made a lot of media calls, and never have I met anyone rude. There are some people who are writing to deadline so they do not have time to talk to me, but no one is mean. I’ve heard horror stories but if you are polite and courteous, then you’re fine.
7. All PR people do is push releases over the wire.
My god I wish that was true. I do MUCH more than that; news releases are just a part of it – a very small part. PR campaigns are complex and require a lot of work and a lot of planning.
I’m sure there are many more myths to explore, these are only some I could think of while sitting at my desk, taking a much needed break from my media list.
The point is, PR is not what you think it is. It’s not glamourous, not even a little. It’s not about media relations or brand management or event planning or crisis communications. It’s about all of it. It’s hard work and it’s not always fun. Some of it is tedious and boring, but what job isn’t. It is challenging, it is never the same and it is a job that required dedication.
Now it’s almost 5 and I have to get going. If you are considering PR, let me know what you think it is If you are in PR, share with me some of the myths you have encountered either through personal experience, or the public’s misconceptions.