I have a confession to make: I never planned to work in Public Relations.
The switch from journalism to PR is often seen as ‘joining the dark side.’ Journalists ‘Expose the truth’; PRs are ‘Spin Doctors’ – Sound familiar?
Of course, I love my role now. I’m driven by a vision to make PR advice as accessible to small businesses and non-profits as it is to big brands and corporates. My overall ‘Why’ relates to representation and I regularly see the positive differences the right press coverage and content can make for smaller organisations.
The changing media landscape and an explosion of digital content and channels also mean the line between ‘journalism’ and ‘PR’ is blurring – whether journalists like to admit it or not.
However, I’m acutely aware that PR has a prevailing PR problem. This is largely due to a misunderstanding about what Public Relations actually is and historical issues relating to how the industry demonstrates Return on Investment.
Here are some top ‘PR myths’ we regularly debunk when talking with potential small business and startup clients:
- PR results are not instant
If you want to sell more stuff now, then you need to see a marketing consultant, not a publicist. Public Relations is often called a marathon rather than a sprint as it’s dependent on consistently and strategically building solid relationships and a trustworthy reputation over time. Unlike advertising and marketing, PR results are rarely instant. PR can help with the sales process, but it shouldn’t be seen as a direct sales channel. Public Relations is a part of your marketing toolbox, but it’s not a silver bullet or cure-all.
- All publicity is not good publicity
A rise in media source websites has made DIY PR much easier and accessible to small businesses and startups, which is a good thing. However, I’m disappointed when I see founders commenting in the press on issues that aren’t directly related to their business, or providing commentary that’s at odds with their overall business and communications objectives. It’s really important for brands of all sizes to be strategic with their PR effort. Frankly, it shouldn’t just be about ‘being on TV’. That’s a wasted opportunity. Small business owners should think about what they want the world to know about their business and communicate that consistently to the media. Sending mixed messages is confusing and not helpful. Sometimes this can even be detrimental to your reputation and credibility.
- The media is not just interested in ‘bad’ news
Fear of being ‘caught out’ by journalists is a very real concern among small business owners. Many believe the media won’t be interested in their story because journalists are only interested in ‘bad’ news. Fear not, founders! Journalists aren’t evil and they are interested in ‘good news stories’, small business owners just need to know how to pitch these stories and who to pitch to.
- The press release is not dead
Have you noticed that a lot of things are ‘dying’ these days? Newspapers, radio, SEO, press releases? In reality, these things are not dead. They’re simply adapting and changing shape. So no, the press release is not dead. It just looks a bit different and is known as a ‘pitch’ these days.
- Public Relations is measurable
WordPlay PR is driven by the values of honesty and accountability and we believe passionately in the value that Public Relations offers organisations of all sizes. However, our industry has at times struggled to communicate that value. Thankfully, ego-driven, flawed metrics such as the advertising value equivalent (AVE) are becoming a thing of the past. PRIA recently released its Measurement and Evaluation Framework, designed to bring Australian practitioners in line with international benchmarks and best practice. WordPlay PR has been using the framework set by the Association for Measurement and Evaluation of Communication (AMEC) for some time. There is also a variety of free online resources, from Google Trends, Googles Alerts, and Google Analytics through to surveys and social listening tools that can help practitioners demonstrate a change in awareness and sentiment, therefore proving business impact.
If you think that Public Relations could benefit your organisation, call us on (03) 8679 6409 and book a complimentary 30-minute Discovery Session, we’d love to hear from you!
About the Author: Penny Smits is Founder and Principal Consultant at WordPlay Public Relations. She is a former newspaper and radio journalist.