My Own PR Myths: Debunked

By Gabby Cox, Intern (@omgitsgabz)

Before starting my internship at Fusion, I thought I knew a lot about PR. After five weeks interning at the LA office, I realized how many misconceptions I had about this industry, and it makes me wonder how many others have misconceived notions of what we do. Now that I have some insight on the inner workings of a PR office, I feel the need to debunk my own PR myths.

Myth #1: PR and Advertising are Synonymous.

I’m not an economics, business, advertising or marketing major. I was terrified that this would set me back, but I vividly remember being told on my first day about the differences between advertising and public relations. For one thing, advertising involves complete control of content and consumers know the company paid for their ad to run in a particular outlet. In public relations, you can’t pay a reporter to cover a particular product and you can’t control what they say in their coverage and reviews.

That is, there have been many times that an ad has caught my eye in a magazine or in a commercial, but I always hunt down reviews online to see what other people are saying about a product before I buy it. Putting all this together, I realized how significant it is when one our clients receive good reviews – it means people genuinely care and appreciate the clients’ products, which is an incredibly rewarding feeling for us.

Myth #2: Event Planning is a Main Focus for a PR Agency.

This might be my most embarrassing myth that I have to debunk. In my defense, PR agencies are always portrayed as event planners, whose employees have a Rolodex full of high-profile contacts for the next big event. While our clients do host promotional events, we do not plan the logistics of the venue, catering, guest list, etc.

I thought my experience in event planning would be one of my strongest assets to the team. While my attention to detail and organizational skills that I’ve developed from past experience have helped me in my internship thus far, I realized that event planning is only a small sub-section of the realm of PR. By assuming PR was mostly about planning events, I was trivializing the other elements of PR that we do everyday – the research, the strategic planning, the pitching, and the communication with clients and the media (to name a few).

Myth #3: PR is All About Getting Coverage in Traditional Media.

Who knew that the hours I’ve spent online would pay off? New media is both fascinating and very familiar to me, so I was happily surprised to hear how often we integrate public relations with new media, meaning Facebook, Twitter, blogs and online news sites. Although coverage in print media is valuable, there are websites with significant followings that are just as important, and whose articles are oftentimes re-posted elsewhere. Not to mention, social media opens avenues to directly connect with people and to address both positive and negative feedback.

While Facebook and Twitter might not be the latest and great social networking platforms in a few years, I don’t see the power of the Internet, nor the effectiveness of communicating with consumers, diminishing any time soon.

The fact that I was wrong about PR is not a bad thing. This internship has made me more open-minded and appreciative of the work that PR agencies do. One thing I was right about, however, is the fact that turning my interests into a job was a great decision. Whether it’s in a brainstorming session, internal meeting, discussion with a client, or elsewhere, I feel enthusiastic about what I do. I witness how contagious others’ enthusiasm is, and I strive to emulate that same enthusiasm during my time at Fusion.

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