Bill Gates once said: “If I was down to my last dollar, I would spend it on public relations.” This quote is a great testament to the power of PR. Yet, there are still many myths surrounding the discipline from its benefits to how it is measured.
Let’s bust some of the most popular myths to give you a better understanding of how PR can help you and your business.
Myth #1: PR is no different to advertising
Truth: Advertising is “paid for” visibility, while PR is “earned visibility.” The critical difference being that PR content is usually endorsed through a third party, and it can be either positive or negative. The consumer has a very different perception about a company that advertises versus one being endorsed by a publication or online channel. PR coverage is much more credible in the mind of the consumer, hence solidifying the reputation of the company in question.
Myth #2: PR is easy, and I can do it myself
Truth: PR is not about just appearing in magazines. Developing strategy and key messages for your company, leveraging the communication, idea generation, audience identification, smart targeting are just the basic elements of PR, so while you may want to do it yourself, we should gently warn you– there is much more behind the scenes. It’s a full-time job, and it pays to have someone who knows what they are doing. A company’s reputation can take a lot of time to build up, and it takes just one mistake to destroy it.
Myth #3: I only need the services of a PR agency in times of trouble
Truth: Market research has continually 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 during difficult times, it’s unlikely to be effective. You need to tell your story consistently, making sure your audience knows your values and trusts your brand. This takes time and is an ongoing process, so when the tough times do come, you’ll be ready.
Myth #4: PR drives sales
Truth: PR can certainly influence the number of leads an organization may receive, however, it’s not necessarily the primary objective. PR is about building awareness, reputation management, engaging potential clients, driving loyalty, and ultimately developing trust. While such a strategy may lead to an increase in sales, it’s not the number one objective.
Myth #5: PR professionals are paid to party
Truth: While it may seem glamorous, and all you need to generate good coverage is to have an active social life, many PR professionals would argue otherwise. Hosting the perfect media event is hard work, and there’s a lot of planning that goes on in the background to make sure the desired results are achieved. Early mornings, late nights, and long hours are par for the course, and it has to be done with a professional, positive, and solution-oriented attitude, at all times.
Myth #6: PR has no business value
Truth: There are various ways to measure the value of an executed public relations strategy, all of which depend on the business and communication objectives. For most companies, it’s quite often the amount of press coverage received which is normally measured against advertising rates, with earned visibility considered three times more valuable than paid visibility. There are other ways to measure such as the number of speaking engagements, the number of leads (if the company in question is monitoring their sources of leads), business introductions, trade show exposure and so on.
With so much information now being spread within seconds, communication between brand and the public has become highly visible and quite often unmanageable– a potentially scary prospect to companies if not managed correctly. Not hiring professionals may be a recipe for disaster, so be very careful here.