5 common misconceptions about PR

As an aspiring public relations professional working in a student-owned PR agency for a year, I have received several questions from people such as “Is PR like advertising? Marketing?” or “So, do you meet celebrities a lot?” I don’t know where people get these ideas, but I am here to set the record straight. In reality, I spend most of my time at the office writing, pitching, managing social media, building websites, and editing photos behind the computer.

According to PR Daily, there are 10 common misconceptions about PR. The following are my top five myths about public relations.

  1. PR and advertising are identical.

While there are definitely crossovers between PR and advertising, they are not the same thing. Advertising is focused on consumers while public relations focuses on building relationships with publics. Take a look at the following infographic or read this article for more differences between PR and advertising.


  1. PR pros distort the truth.

People often think PR pros spin information toward the sunny side of things. However, I’ve learned that one of the most important things to remember while working in the PR field is “Don’t lie and be honest.” PR crises happen when a company starts to lie and to cover up the truth.PR pros are dedicated to telling the truth and building trust with clients and their publics.

  1. PR pros only care about media placement.

People often say PR is all about writing press releases. While writing and media coverage are still a huge part of public relations, PR pros nowadays use plenty of platforms such as social media, blogging, content marketing and search engine optimization (SEO) for storytelling.

  1. PR pros work 9-to-5 and spend most of that time at parties.

When you see PR pros on TV shows or movies, they spend quite a lot of time partying, shopping and drinking. But in reality most practitioners go in early and go home late at the end of day in order to complete tons of deadlines and meetings. PR is a lot of hard work that can’t be done at parties.

  1. PR pros get a lot of attention

I think this misconception is related to budding PR practitioners. Don’t get too excited about media coverage. What is being covered by the media is not you, but your clients. If you like the idea of helping your clients’ message be heard,which will get your clients paid and continue the working relationship you have with them, you’re fit to be in PR. It’s not about being seen; it’s about getting others seen.

by Jihyun Shin, online communications director

Writing for the Web, Successfully

Did you know, according to Microsoft Research, the average Web reader will spend 10 seconds deciding whether to stay on a page or click “back” and go on to the next Google result? Well, if you did not, now you do!

As the ever-changing world of journalism shifts from copy on paper to type on a website, so does the way in which we, journalists and public relations professionals, must write. Understanding how an individual reads on print versus the Web is crucial when structuring content.

From blogging to news stories, organization and placement is key to maximize readership and readability. Also, knowing how to write for the Web is even more important for those soon-to-be graduates, like myself, as the job market becomes more competitive.

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Here are a few things to keep in mind when writing for the Web:

Scanabilty:  Because Web readers do not stay on a page for very long, it is important to structure your content to ensure it is scannable, meaning you are effectively getting your point across through a quick scan of the content.

  • Headlines: Your main idea should be within your headline. The reader should understand the message they will receive solely through the headline.
  • Subheads: Once you have your main idea in your headline, use subheads for your main points. Think of this as the structure or roadmap of your piece.
  • Bullets: Do you have a list or information that you want to easily disseminate to your readers? Put it in bullets! It will also add visual appeal to your website.

Most Important Information First: Word-for-word reading rarely happens on the Web, so follow the inverted pyramid writing style and put your most important information first.

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Please the Non-Readers: Like I said before, those on the Web don’t read! So make sure you are writing to please the lazies. What does this mean? It means short sentences and paragraphs, getting to your point quickly and easy to read copy.

Use Pictures: Pictures are a great way to break up text heavy copy. There are some great ways to use pictures too! Infographics, diagrams, graphs or pictures are all useful when writing for the Web and keeping your reader on your page.

Hyperlinks, Use Them: Hyperlinking text within your story or blog provides readers more information about a specific topic or subtopic within your story. It is also a great way to provide your source or back up an opinion you state. One thing to keep in mind when embedding hyperlinks is to link words that tell the reader where he or she is going, rather than just linking “click here.”

Writing for the Web is no easy task; it takes time, energy and some brainstorming. However, like all things, it comes with practice! So go forth, and create that blog or write that story you’ve been thinking about!

Check out these websites for more useful information on writing for the Web:

9 Simple Tips for Writing for the Web

A Link is a Promise

F-Shaped Pattern For Reading Web Content

 By Mallorie Hayes, editor & assistant account executive