Busting PR myths – the truth about public relations
With so many pop culture representations of the PR industry, it’s no surprise myths about public relations abound. Ask anyone what PR professionals do, and chances are you’ll get descriptions that bear more than a passing resemblance to highly strung, smooth talking, and extravagant characters from TV shows such as Mad Men, The Thick of It, and – of course – Absolutely Fabulous.
It’s also easy to see why dramatic representations might create confusion for those considering a PR career. To help separate truth from fiction, we asked the GingerMay team to share what they expected when entering the industry – and how reality matched up.
PR is event and Prosecco-centric – “the Wild West of drinking and lunching”
“The reality is that we are very focused on meeting clients’ needs and work hard to achieve them.”
Relationship building is paramount to effective PR, but wining and dining is only a small part of it. A much bigger focus for teams is forging close ties to establish strong partnerships with clients and ensure they have a deep understanding of unique offerings, business needs, and goals. Meanwhile, the media aspect of PR is more about creating professional connections with influential and relevant contacts across multiple online and offline channels.
Many PR activities are data and media driven, from putting out content – writing press releases, thought leadership pieces, educational articles, social media posts, and organising research and whitepapers – to tracking and analysing media performance against specific KPIs.
PR professionals are constantly on the lookout for earned media opportunities, awards, or speaker events. Cultivating brand awareness, and indeed, simply conducting daily activities requires full understanding of the entire media ecosystem.
In essence, a good PR strategy takes time to build and goes beyond reputation management; it relies on a solid game plan, creative thinking, and a finger on the media pulse at all times.
Working at a PR agency leaves no room for work-life balance
“There is an understanding that we are all there to step in and support each other when necessary. Flexibility is as always key, but the work, even when challenging, is very rewarding.”
PR is frequently perceived as a sector where individuals are highly ambitious, and extensive overtime is the norm. In a fast-paced environment where everyone is focused on progression, the fear is that there is not much room for good interpersonal relationships or, indeed, free time.
In reality, working in PR is like any full-time job, with periods of heightened activity as well as slower-paced days. At GingerMay, responsibilities are clearly outlined, with no expectation of presenteeism or overtime.
Teams often work under deadlines to keep up with what’s newsworthy, but there is a strong teamwork ethic, which means no one is expected to handle it alone all the time. Furthermore, a proactive and employee-centred work environment will ensure there are structures to help each individual manage both clients’ needs and their personal lives.
Technology has completely transformed the PR landscape
“In a world that is increasingly online, it is vital not to hide behind our screens.”
Although the majority of PR has moved from print to digital, the fundamentals are still the same. Keeping track of social media platforms and digital publications is crucial to remaining relevant, but where so many of our interactions occur on-screen, building relationships in person is more important than ever.
Good PR comes from in-person connection and collaboration. At GingerMay, we develop our client relationships through deep dive thought leadership labs, regular meetings, and detailed briefings. This is key when it comes to keeping up to date with evolving needs and goals, then adapting PR campaigns, strategies, and key messages accordingly.
Working with technology companies is dull
“If you could dissect the internet to get a full picture of all the workings behind the scenes… so many different bits of tech, companies, and people all working to get us the content we want at our fingertips. We all perform our searches, read reviews, buy our products, and expect them to appear as soon as possible. But there is so much more to it. ”
Much like PR, the technology sector is subject to misplaced assumptions: including the view such an intricate space can often be dull. Working with tech companies proves that’s far from the case. Companies are full of creative and innovative people who are pushing leading-edge developments forward and finding new ways to enhance the value their solutions deliver. What’s more, client collaboration gives PR executives the chance to learn about new digital tools and be at the forefront of exciting shifts.
It also turns the PR professional into something of an expert on emerging trends and developments. Workers at agencies specialising in tech PR must know the finer details of their client’s offering and the wider space to ensure content is timely, engaging, and genuinely valuable for the audiences they want to reach.
PR is about fulfilling client wish lists
“There is a general perception that PR is about carrying out instructions; with clients telling teams what they want to do and where they want to raise their profile. Working at GingerMay has shown it doesn’t have to be this way. Our partnerships with clients are exactly that; a partnership and joint effort where everyone works together on shaping programmes.”
At GingerMay, we always strive to pin down what companies specifically want to achieve. However, we also have the scope to draw on our own expertise and make tailored suggestions, highlighting opportunities they may not yet have considered.
PR in general is about helping and offering expert guidance. We use our knowledge to find effective ways of ensuring clients are noticed by the right audiences to grow their business and provide media contacts with the right information to capture their interest.