Council Post: Don’t Let These PR Myths Keep You From Better Branding

Ronjini Joshua
4 min readSep 2, 2020

For the past 17 years, I have had to explain what public relations is over and over again. Most don’t grasp the concept or understand the practice. So, with anything that is misunderstood, great myths begin to appear and generalize the profession.

To create solid PR partnerships and run successful campaigns for your brand, it is important to understand industry myths. I’d like to dispel five common myths about public relations that may be keeping you from the benefit of better branding.

We cannot call in a favor to get media coverage.

There may have been a time where this was more true and in some circles, but the reality is, calling in a favor only works if you have the next unicorn. The notion that a publicist can call a journalist to cover a company they’re representing just because they know said journalist is completely false. We all have jobs to do, and if you’re an upstanding journalist or publicist, you know that an authentic story or solid piece of news is the only thing that will get you the attention you’re looking for.

PR people are spin doctors.

Spin Doctors were a quality one-hit wonder from the ’90s, but not an accurate descriptions of PR pros. The notion that publicists manipulate bad stories and into good ones is false, but it’s easy to see how this could be confusing from a novice’s perspective. The actual role of a good publicist is to take existing information and find the pieces of it that are the most compelling and interesting, not to craft news that sneakily tricks the public. The 21st-century term for it is “storytelling.” PR pros are first-class storytellers who have to do their own investigation and crafting to bring the best out of a brand and a pitch angle. It is an activity in branding and messaging that is vital to any PR campaign. That said, you can’t put lipstick on a pig. A good publicist should tell their clients if a story will or will not fly with the press and how to make it more attractive so it may have a chance to live in the news.

A publicist’s job is just writing press releases and handling media.

While crafting and distributing news is a significant part of any solid PR strategy, a good publicist will look at the entire story and the public face of the company. A dynamic gift of PR people that is sorely underrated and misunderstood is our ability to see the brand from many different angles (marketing, sales, executive, etc.). We identify the brand’s target audience, determine where they consume their most important information and put our clients in those places so they can be seen with precision, clarity and a call to action. This type of program is much more than writing press releases — it may include speaking engagements, awards, analyst relations, social media, experiential marketing or community involvement — but, most importantly, it’s ensuring that all of these pieces play together and have unified messaging and purpose.

PR people get into parties for free.

Many of the myths around PR position us as fun-loving extroverts who throw caution to the wind and party with the best of them. If you believe that, you haven’t been around the best of them. In reality, we are in PR because we like to be a business’s backbone and support and drive success from the sidelines. Within the industry, it is commonly known that PR people are the worst at doing PR for themselves for that very reason. When it comes to events, tradeshows and parties, that’s where connections are vital. However, PR people don’t typically get the top invites. If your PR person is good at networking, sure, we can find ways to get you in. (Did you know publicists are undercover detectives?) But don’t believe it was an easy feat. In the entertainment industry, it’s all about who you know, just like anywhere else.

PR is hard to measure.

There are many PR myths out there, but I think many might debate me on this particular one. My position is that PR is not hard to measure. When the perception of what PR entails changes, teams will see that the same way you measure marketing and sales, you can measure PR through trackable links, increase in sales, website traffic and surveys. The only part of PR that is immeasurable is the lasting impact that branding leaves for your company. PR is often more than an advertising campaign or a piece of marketing material. The goal of PR is to drive overall awareness and get you into the minds of your company’s audience. Your audience may or may not take action, but they may still be tracking you. The basic metrics of PR are like any other, but I would easily say that you can magnify that by two or even five because of PR’s long-lasting effectiveness as a whole.

The most important thing to remember is that a good publicist can elevate a brand from good to great with simple focused messaging and direction. That doesn’t mean we are spin doctors or we called it in. It just means that your brand has an “it” factor that can have a lasting impact. As someone who has been in the industry for nearly two decades, I can say that if I don’t care about or understand the industry my client is in, it is very difficult to build an honorable and believable brand story. In every industry, we deal with the good and bad, and PR is no different. To get the best PR, make sure you are partnering with people who believe in your brand and what you’re trying to accomplish with genuine interest, excitement and passion.

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Ronjini Joshua

Wife & mother of 3. Aka the fun parent. Owner of The Silver Telegram, PR and crowdfunding expert. You can find me at ronjini at thesilvertelegram dot com.