I’ve never been one to appreciate falling for April Fools Day pranks and you’ll certainly never know me as the mastermind behind an epic holiday prank. While I recognize that April Fools Day can be a fun way to take a load off, relax and just have a good laugh, I’m not big on acting the part of the fool…or subjecting someone else to that role.
With that being said, I think I’ve adequately fooled most of my friends, family and peers into thinking they have a basic understanding of what my colleagues and I, as PR and Social Media professionals, do for a living. It certainly wasn’t intentional; I never meant to fool you…it just seemed to happen by default. Read below as I debunk the six myths of the day-to-day life of PR professionals, because….not everything you hear is true.
Myth 1: Doing PR is glamorous. As a PR pro, you have access to lots of free things, most of them shiny, expensive and new, and even more access to the glitziest and glamorous parties.
Truth: While some of our client accounts come with perks (read: working with a bakery can mean lots of delicious sweets around the office), as a PR pro, we have to pay for access to the city’s best parties, concerts, and events just like you do. That’s right, I don’t have access to that Fleetwood Mac concert you’re DYING to attend this summer or to the Grammy’s next year. We also understand boundaries, which means, even if given the opportunity to accept lots of free goodies, we wouldn’t necessarily ask our clients, because we respect their needs to grow their businesses (and we hope to HELP them with this, instead of constantly asking for free swag).
Myth 2: Public Relations is the same thing as event planning, and by default, if you do PR, you’ll be a great at planning my cousin’s Bar Mitzvah, my wedding, or my charity event.
Truth: While we do find ourselves brainstorming awesome event ideas for clients, and sometimes even planning and implementing events (like this awesome one for our client, West Point Lincoln), this just so happens to be an added benefit of a PR firm with event experience. For the most part, when you hire a PR pro, you’re hiring the professional to promote your event before and/or after, not to plan it from start to finish.
Myth 3: PR is advertising, so as a PR professional, you must know how to create ads, place ads and find me the best pricing on ads. You were responsible for the Budweiser Clydesdale horse Superbowl commercials, right?
Truth: Again, some PR pros have super-skills surrounding advertising and/or have experience with advertising, but your typical PR pro is not handling advertising campaigns or dollars on a day-to-day basis. Some agencies, like ours, have the expertise in-house and offer the services through what we call “media buying.”
Myth 4: PR is an easy job for my ditzy friends who have bigger dreams of finding the perfect husband than they do of attaining meaningful career goals.
Truth: Insulting for obvious reasons, this myth couldn’t be farther from the truth. Not only are PR pros stacked with amazing skills like impeccable writing and mastery of the English language (that’s right, we have grammar and spelling on lockdown), we’re also problem solvers who are quick on our feet, creative thinkers, excellent communicators and relationship builders, and then some. PR is not for the light-hearted. Those in the profession understand that they can, at times, take a beating from media personalities, clients and partners, alike, but it’s these skills (and infinite more that I didn’t mention above) that mean PR pros are just that: professionals. Plus, we can have our gorgeous hubby and our dream PR job, at the same time…and many of us do!
Myth 5: PR pros have tons of extra time on their hands to help me or my business (or my dad’s business, or my baby sister’s business or my golden retriever’s business…you get the point) with its PR…for free.
Truth: While we do LOVE the that work we do, and we are appreciative of your vote of confidence in our experience and ability to hopefully do right by you and your business, we typically don’t have a whole lot of time to spare. PR pros do not work a typical 9 – 5 job…we’re always on the clock. We work until 9 PM to make sure that every client email is answered, that tomorrow’s press release is perfect and that fires are put out…or that they don’t start at all. We’re on email all hours of the day in case a news anchor emails us with a last minute, and often times, timely request. We’re waking up early on a Saturday morning to check media in at your festival or race. We’re attending networking events with industry professionals, potential partners for our clients, media and more. You get the point: our hours are long. With that being said, while we’d love to help you, our time is valuable and precious, and after work, we want to take a load off…not necessarily give away our secrets for free.
Myth 6: All PR pros look, dress and act like Samantha from Sex and the City.
Truth: While homegirl is certainly a hottie, once again, it’s just not true. First, most PR professionals represent companies and brands, not individual personalities and famous people (although, many of my colleagues would love to get their hands on Amanda Bynes’ and Lindsey Lohan’s business). Second, we wouldn’t dare enter a meeting or attend an event in a strapless dress or a skin-tight number. Finally, PR pros do what we do for a living so we can stay behind the scenes and let our clients shine, not to collect attention like Samantha did so often.
While the list could go on and on for the types of myths that are out there and the truths PR professionals live and work by, I’ll spare you. Instead, you tell me – what do you think we do for a living? Share it on our Facebook page and we’ll let you know if you “get it” or if you need a little extra education.
-Written by Jenny Selber