Your thoughts on PR are probably wrong – here’s the real deal

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As PR professionals, we are faced nearly every day with misconceptions about what PR is from those outside of the comms world. Although frustrating (and sometimes humorous too), it can make our lives that bit harder when trying to execute a successful campaign or specific tactic for a client. So, we thought it would be best to outline three of the most common mistruths about what we do and dispel the garbage about what PR involves:

 1. It’s just advertising!

    Wrong! PR is not advertising. Advertising is advertising. Advertising is paid-for content, whether it be a full page advert in a magazine or a banner advert on a website. Yes, you could argue that PR is also paid for, through paying a monthly PR retainer, for example. However, the value of PR coverage and advertising coverage is very different. PR coverage has not been paid for like an advert is paid for. PR coverage is therefore endorsed, earned exposure. Think about it - Do you pay more attention to an advert on a website or the editorial? What value did each give you? A salesy advert and a piece of editorial will have very different impacts and levels of value.

    2. You only need PR when disaster strikes

      A positive reputation is paramount for any organisation. It can take a very long time to build but it can also come tumbling down in an instant. For a crisis to hit an organisation that has never taken any steps to maintain a favourable reputation in the public eye, it can be disastrous. Yet if an organisation has been proactive in utilising PR to build a reputation of trust and transparency, when a crisis does occur, it can be managed effectively. You would have told your story consistently and have gained credibility, which is critical when your organisation appears under scrutiny.

      3. It makes no difference to our sales

        Some people approach PR thinking it’ll make their sales rocket. While this is rarely the case, the outcome of PR certainly doesn’t mean it won’t have any positive impact at all on sales. PR can help to increase an organisation’s awareness, raise profiles, build trust, engage audiences and maintain a positive reputation. All these things can collectively result in more sales. You can’t buy from a company that you’re not aware of and it’s highly unlikely that you’re going to spend your hard earned cash with a company you don’t trust, or that has been in the press for all the wrong reasons. So, to say good PR doesn’t make any positive difference to your sales isn’t strictly true.