Introduction: Misconceptions about PR

Apr 11th, 2010 | By | Category: Featured Articles, Israel, News, Public relations

pr misconceptionThis is my first blog and while there are many subjects I can, as a marketing and communications professional, concentrate on, the misconceptions of public relations (PR) has to be my first. After 14 years of working in the PR and marketing industry in three different countries, the misconceptions of PR’s definition, is still a source of much frustration.

When I first arrived in Israel, over 11 years ago, the only PR jobs available were those in PR agencies. There was no such thing as a “corporate in-house PR person” as I had experienced overseas. Over the years, hi-tech companies, competing with their overseas counterparts, discovered that public relations is in fact a necessity. The task however, is still today too often combined with other marketing related duties. And many of the misconceptions remain.

There are several definitions of public relations (which in and of itself does not help the misconceptions). The Public Relations Society of America defined as follows: “Public relations helps an organization and its publics adapt mutually to each other.” The Chartered Institute of Public Relations in the United Kingdom has expanded this definition, as “Public relations is the planned and sustained effort to establish and maintain goodwill and mutual understanding between an organization and its publics.”

In Israel, I constantly encounter the acronym “PR”. It is not, as one would expect, used for “public relations” but rather for “press release”. This also exemplifies much of the attitudes I have come across, which asserts that PR (public relations) is only about sending out press releases and securing media coverage – which it is not.

I was encouraged, though, when discussing this problem with other PR professionals around the world. It does not seem to be restricted to Israeli attitudes only. Many people all over the world perceive PR to be just about “media relations” or publicity. One PR professional named James Cooper, based in the United Kingdom, wrote on a PR discussion board, “PR is seen as equating to press clippings by most companies, and if it isn’t by our client interface then it is by their internal line reports…”

Another person, Michael Shmarak, President/Principal at Sidney Maxwell Public Relations in the Greater Chicago area, in the United States wrote, “I am still amazed to this day how many prospective clients think PR is media relations.”

Another person, based on Rhode Island wrote, “This is a perception that needs to be addressed in this industry…” and one professional in Arizona wrote, “The public relations industry could certainly use its own PR campaign, that’s for sure…”

So after much deliberation, I have come to the conclusion that Israelis don’t differ much from their overseas counterparts – although that does not lessen my frustration. So this is my challenge – to try and alter mistaken beliefs and false perceptions. Watch this space for further discussions…

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