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There are many who would like to enter the PR and communications industry, but don’t know what it entails. One encounters so many misconceptions and erroneous assumptions about this field of work, which is often perpetrated by PR firms trying to win new clients by showing to them “the power of PR.”

Below we bust some of the myths surrounding public relations so as to give you a better understanding of how PR can help you and your business:

MYTH 1: PR is Just Like Advertising

Both advertising and PR help build brands, but advertising is “paid for” visibility, while PR is “earned visibility.” Consumers perceive PR coverage to be much more credible than advertisements, hence building the image of the company in question.

MYTH 2: PR is All about Press Releases and Press Conferences

While both press releases and press conferences form an essential part of the job, they are certainly not the be-all-end-all. Press conferences should be rare and reserved for the biggest events. If you hold press conferences all the time, reporters won’t show up. Today, more and more communication is taking place via YouTube videos, Tweets, Instagram posts, and so on.

MYTH 3: One Big Hit is Enough

It is not. The impact of a viral video or a viral press release, though noticeable, is only fleeting. Even before you know, the public have forgotten about your content and moved on to the next viral thing online. The key is to remain constantly relevant and interesting all the time.

MYTH 4: Publicity is Free and Easy

PR is a full-time job. Those just starting may want to do it on their own for lack of a budget or for lack of an understanding of what the job entails. PR is not just about throwing parties or attending them. It includes developing strategy and key messages for the company, leveraging the communication, idea generation, audience identification, smart targeting, and so on. It pays to have experienced professionals do the job for you.

MYTH 5: PR is Needed Only When in Crisis

Building a reputation, which may eventually convert to sales, takes time and is an ongoing process. Research has shown that a customer needs to know, trust, and believe in your product or service before buying, with the general rule of thumb being at least seven interactions. So if you’re only reaching out when in trouble, it’s unlikely to be effective.

MYTH 6: Good Products Don’t Need Publicity

A good PR strategy would help highlight your best products – the ones you want people to know about. While effective PR can puff up a bad product, using PR only for the bad products is not a good idea. Consumers have already made an image about your product in their minds, which may or may not be positive, and when you finally decide to publicize your good products, they will still think the products are not good.

MYTH 7: PR Has No Business Value

There are no statistics to show the success or failure of a PR strategy. Some people and organizations do try to quantify public relations with the number of clicks or hits, trade show exposure, amount of earned media, etc. For most companies, it’s quite often the amount of press coverage received, which is normally measured against advertising rates, with earned visibility believed to be three times more valuable than paid visibility.

MYTH 8: PR Controls the Press

Some publicists make high claims of their reach and influence. Such an approach will simply not work because the stories they pitch are in the hands of editors/ producers, who are the real controllers of PR output. PR professionals do not control the press. Public relations is about communicating with the press and public in a smart, effective way.

MYTH 9: PR is No Longer Relevant as Traditional Media is Dead

While traditional media is still alive, it is digital PR that more and more companies are turning to for their businesses and credibility.

MYTH 10: PR Drives Sales, Clicks and Leads Overnight

PR will not make you rich overnight. PR can certainly influence the number of leads an organization may receive, however, it’s not necessarily the primary objective. While a successful PR strategy may lead to an increase in sales, it’s not the No. 1 objective. PR is about building brand awareness and reputation management.

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