The Truth Surrounding PR Agency Myths
Updated February 2024 – Many people think that public relations is a glamorous profession with a bunch of people “spin” stories, networking and eating/drinking at fancy restaurants. While there may be publicists like that out there, in general we beg to differ. In our world, PR people are the unsung heroes in the background that make your brand stand out (well the good ones anyway). We work countless hours, days, nights, and weekends, sacrifice time with our families and put out “fires” all the time, all while maintaining a professional persona and calm demeanor (most of the time). With that in mind, we wanted to clear up perception versus reality to give you a real inside look on a “day in the life” of a more typical PR Pro. Let’s take a look at the five biggest PR agency myths that we hear about the most at The Silver Telegram. Spoiler alert…you’re not going to find these by simply browsing the wiki entry for public relations.
PR Agency Myth #1 – We do lunch
Perception: We spend our days lunching with clients and journalists while talking about big ideas.
Reality: Lunch is a luxury we don’t always have. PR pros are busting their backs just like the journalists on deadline’. The majority of our days are spent researching PR trends, developing plans, creating and following up on pitches, and evaluating the success of current and past projects. Fueled mostly by coffee, it’s not uncommon that we look at our watches and it’s 2 pm before we realize we forgot to eat.
Myth #2 – Getting an interview/briefing is as easy as sending out an email, then waiting for the replies to roll in
Perception: We write our emails and pitches and the journalists are just waiting for our e-mail and they respond right away.
Reality: The majority of our work is spent developing a good pitch and selecting the right media outlets and journalists. Once pitches are sent, we may spend several days following up with reporters via phone and email, coordinating interviews, and preparing clients for those interviews. There are times when journalists may not get back to you for days or weeks with a response. Journalists get anywhere from 30-100 new pitches a day, so yes…sometimes we are deleted, sometimes we are spam. It all depends on what is happening that day.
Myth #3 – You are the ONLY client
Perception: Public relations agencies only take on a single client so they can focus all of their time and resources towards a single target.
Reality: While we want every client to feel like that, it’s just not true. We work with multiple clients and are typically in several stages of projects. At any given time, we may be meeting with a potential new client, researching and developing strategies for current clients, and evaluating a campaign for a project we just completed. The amount of campaigns differ based on the size of your account and agency, but a safe bet is that any agency or freelancer is working on 4-6 clients at a time.
Myth #4 – We can call in a favor
Perception: We have connections with journalists and can negotiate with them to run a story anytime we want.
Reality: Reporters are professionals with specific criteria for news and many of them have bosses. The reality is that relationships are nice but don’t always pan out. You can ask a reporter to look at something or for a reference, but of course it’s their discretion on if they want to report it. Some industries are more flexible than others on this. We work hard to identify newsworthy angles and develop quality pitches to ensure that you are connecting with the most relevant journalists for your news.
Myth #5 – We make up or can create any stories (and then they go viral)
Perception: We can “spin” anything to be a sensational headline and we exaggerate facts and figures in order to get more news time for clients.
Reality: We wouldn’t be in business very long if we made stories up. One of the most fun parts of our job is to find the story in every situation (if there is one). A good PR agency or professional will tell their clients when they don’t have “news” on their hands and determine a different way to get their story published. There are always options on how to present content in this digital age, we help our clients find the best way to get it noticed so that they get the ROI they need.
The Bottom Line – PR Agency Myths
The bottom line is this: PR people are working harder and longer hours than you think to help our clients succeed in their campaigns. Sometimes it can be hard to see the amount of work that goes into producing a successful PR campaign: researching, planning, reworking strategies, implementing tactics, evaluating and tweaking as we go. When we aren’t getting results, its also just as frustrating for us, but we love what we do, and that means we’re willing to put in extra time and effort to help your brand look its best. So the next time you meet with your PR team, be sure to let them know that you understand they are working all angles to make you look good (and bring them some extra coffee or a Starbucks gift card, too).
In the meantime, if you’re new to working with a public relations agency, we recommend checking out our vastly popular article of what to expect when working with a PR agency. If you need some complementary guidance, The Silver Telegram is happy to hop on a complimentary call to discuss your brand’s needs.