Lately I’ve seen job-focused memes spreading like mad across Facebook—ranging from veterinarians to tech support professionals—humorously conveying what various people believe those in the given profession actually do. The “public relations consultant” one gave me a good laugh with many of the common assumptions around PR pros. With this in mind, here’s my run-down of the top three current misconceptions regarding public relations.
1) We are “people” persons – I cannot tell you how many times I’ve heard this odd descriptor. Sure, we like people, but so do teachers, doctors, retailers, interior designers and most other professions that involve working with others. At our core, PR pros are effective communicators who specialize in helping companies clearly convey their value proposition and industry leadership in a way that cuts through the clutter—whether by writing or speaking—and engages them with their target audiences.
2) We are glamorous – I’m not sure where this one originated as most PR pros make an effort to work behind the scenes and generate the “front-and-center” attention for their executives/clients. In between generating strategic messages and pitching relevant interviews for on-deadline reporters, we’re coaching company spokespersons for future interviews and generating multi-pronged social media campaigns to keep our clients top-of-mind. Creative? Yes. Always on the go? Yes. Glamorous? No.
3) We spend all day on Facebook and Twitter – This one is actually true sometimes, but not because we’re commenting on how adorable our friend’s kid looks in a T-ball uniform or tweeting about the drama of Rihanna and Chris Brown’s musical collaboration. The truth is that 21st century public relations requires constant monitoring of and participation in a company’s social media platforms. By keeping a close eye on all activity throughout the day, we’re ready to comment on the latest industry news, respond to comments and if necessary, put out fires before they spread.