Imagine this. You stop at your favorite coffee shop on the way to work, head to a quick meeting and see yourself out the door of your office at 11:30 for a long lunch with co-workers to discuss strategy. You finally mosey back into the office around 1:00 to have a meeting with your client over how to make their money make money. Head out of the office at around 3:30 for a quick break before heading to the hotspot downtown for some drinks to figure out how to spin your client’s story to benefit their case for a bit before enjoying the evening and drinking off a long day. Sounds like the perfect day for someone in Public Relations, right?

Yeah, not so much.

In the face of television and movies, Public Relations seems like the perfect gig for the out there, witty personality. Being able to spin stories and reel in the hook line and sinkers of any clients issues is for a specific type of person. However, that is the glamorized version of public relations. Much like how a surgeon would criticize Grey’s Anatomy and how dramatized it is in comparison to an actual surgeon’s work, those in Public Relations feel that the dramatization of the gig has created some myths that I believe need some clearing up.

  1. Putting “spin” on a story

In the foreword of Jim Macnamara’s novel Journalism & PR: Unpacking ‘Spin’, Stereotypes & Media Myths, he immediately begins to tackle how the term “spin” is misconstrued to the outside world and how in the field, it is simply untrue. In current day, many people within the field feel that the term “spin” can be more heavily applied to government documentation than PR releases at this point. “Spin” is roughly associated with bending the truth of a story just enough for there to be a change in the point of view, while keeping most of the facts straight. However, in Public Relations, the goal is to release only what we know and shed light on a situation to the public. It is never our goal to lie in order to make our clients look good, but allow for truthful and honest information to make its way outwards. 

  1. Using PR is a Quick and Dirty Way to Promote Your Business

In an article written for Huffington Post’s Blog, they talk about this myth at two seperate ideas and focus on fast growth and quick results. Before PR was extremely established as a field, it was used as a means of coming in after a crisis has occurred and fixing the situation. However, over the years, companies have realized that having PR on staff has allowed for them to not only troubleshoot crises, but also allow for creative opinions and planning to help promote a company forward. Therefore, while PR professionals can do work quick and dirty, our best work is done over a prolonged period of time where we can support a company and help shape their brand in order to reach their optimal audience. We will also have crisis plans in place for the, unfortunate, occasion of a crisis occurring so a company has a set plan of what to do in case they find themselves in a crisis, rather than scrambling to figure out what to do and potentially put their brand in danger.

  1. PR professionals prefer old school methods

When you think about PR and how it has been publicized on TV and movies, you think of people meeting in person to talk about ads in newspapers and getting their clients on the front page of the tabloids and that is where your train of thought tends to stop. While that was all fine and dandy about 15 years ago, that is no longer the case for PR professionals. If we stuck to our old school methods in today’s day and age, we would not have a job to be doing. In PR Daily’s blog, they talk about how this is a strange misconception from the outside in. While we have the ad and article space down pat, social media is its own beast that we have been gently taming since it became a priority in our society. If we were to just ignore social media as a whole and go on our merry way in old school media, we would be blatantly ignoring a HUGE chunk of our audience. You know your grandma who loves nothing more than looking at Facebook all day and keeping up with everything and anything? Our social media campaigns are targeted for her too. So let’s not think we are living in the olden days, PR is way further ahead than you might think.

While this is just a sampling of many misconceptions out there, it just shows how misunderstood PR professionals are in the modern world. While in the past, we may have been seen as some slimy, sweet talkers who generally are just trying to work an angle, that is no longer the case. We are here to create the best image for our brand through honest work and smart objectives.

McKenna is a fifth year senior double majoring Advertising & Public Relations and Dance at Grand Valley State University. McKenna is currently a Publicity Intern at Adkins Publicity based out of Music City, Nashville, as well as an Account Associate for GrandPR, an accredited student-run PR Firm. She has been involved with PRSSA for the duration of both of her senior years, as well as being actively involved in her sorority, Alpha Omicron Pi, in her first four years at GV before becoming an alumna of the chapter. After finally graduating, she is looking to continue her work in Entertainment PR and combine her strengths from both of her degrees. In her free time, you may find McKenna teaching dance at her local Grand Rapids studio, drinking copious amounts of coffee or snuggling her pampered stray cat, Eddie.

Twitter: @mckennawink