According to public relations lore, the first press release was sent out in 1906. I guess that could be considered the beginning of public relations. So, the craft has been around for more than a century. Wow!

However, there are still many misconceptions out there about public relations in general and what PR pros do and do not do. These misunderstandings can create obstacles when attempting to explain PR’s potential value to small business owners and even top executives who aren’t quite sure how PR can help their business.

Here are five common myths about the industry, many of which have not changed in decades. 

  1. It’s all about the press release. Yes, PR pros still write press releases. They’ve been around a LONG time. More than 100 years, remember? And they probably aren’t going anywhere. They still are a valuable communications tool, when used correctly. But PR does not always equal Press Release. Pros in the industry use other tools to communicate with the media and targeted publics, such as:
  • Email pitches
  • Social media channels/connections
  • Content, such as blogs, articles, whitepapers and video
  • Creative mailers and press kits
  • The good old-fashioned phone call
  1. PR is easy…I can just do it myself. Yes, you can. But oftentimes it’s best to hire a professional who can focus on the efforts. PR takes time, and results are often not immediate. So you must be consistent and diligent. Most business owners don’t have the time to focus on marketing and public relations because they are focused on doing what they do best – running their business. PR is about creating a consistent brand, communicating effectively, working well with journalists and managing reputation. And it’s a full-time job. 
  1. PR is cheap…or free. PR does include earned media, but it’s not free. If your business hires a professional – an internal expert or an outside agency partner – you will be paying them for their time and expertise. Worth it? Yes. Because PR can often create more visibility and credibility than advertising can…and, in many cases, for less money.
  1. Any press is good press. Yep, tell that to anyone who has ever experienced a PR crisis. Any press is NOT good press. Do you want your brand to be seen in a negative light due to less-than-stellar media coverage? Or because unhappy customers are talking badly about you on social media? Most PR professionals would rather not have to react to bad press. They want to tell proactive, positive stories that engage people and compel them to act, all while helping a company build their brand.
  1. You spin, you win. Oh, so not true! It is amazing that people still believe this is part of a PR pro’s job. Ever heard of transparency? Ethical professionals will not try to spin a negative into a positive or tell lies to fit their own needs. Instead, they will craft key messages to build understanding and trust so that the company they work for can be seen in an honest, transparent light.