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Misperceptions about Public Relations

Misperceptions about Public Relations

By Victoria Yarnish

Throughout my career in public relations, I am continuously reminded that the very mention of “PR” conjures up a vast many preconceived notions or off-the-wall definitions.  As a PR professional, at some point I had to accept the fact that my mom and dad, my best friend and even my boyfriend may not really know exactly what it is that I do all day.

Public relations is an industry shrouded in ignorance and gross misunderstanding, and I’m often puzzled at how exactly this happened.  Then I recall characters like Samantha Jones from “Sex and The City” and films like Phone Booth, and I get it.

At some point PR became glorified by Hollywood and the seemingly glamorous, hip and well-connected publicists portrayed on the screen hijacked the industry’s image.  It’s not a terrible thing to be likened to attractive, successful characters, but in a world where we are searching the truth, it’s high time we clearly define ourselves (for a roundup of relevant movies, please see today’s post on Social Fluency).

In recent years, the industry has struggled to define PR, but here’s my definition of public relations, you may not agree with me…but that’s okay because in a year or two this could shift:

Traditionally, public relations has been the management of a corporation, organization or individual’s objectives and messages to the public through various means of communication or media.  Today’s PR marries the traditional and emerging practices of PR, and stands at the intersection of marketing, social media and editorial news.

Being a true PR professional means that you must understand and integrate yourself into every facet of the industry.  Just as the newspaper industry changed the way it does business, so too must the public relations industry.

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