I can’t help but notice that people really don’t like public relations professionals. And it sucks because all we try to do is ensure that everyone is happy. Don’t get me wrong — I’m sure there are a few (maybe more than a few) bad eggs out there who soil the PR name. But the rest of us want to do our jobs in peace. So let’s back up for a second. Why do people hate us so much?
A few reasons:
- They mistake us for reporters.
- They think we lie or exaggerate the truth.
- They think we’re lazy.
- They think we get paid too much for doing such easy work.
- PR tends to be associated with that publicist who keeps Justin Bieber out of trouble.
With all of this floating around the industry, I thought it might be best to start from the beginning.
What do people think we do?
After browsing through a couple of articles, I’m seeing a recurring theme here. Most people believe that we plan events, lie to the public and cater to celebrities. Click here to see other hilarious thoughts people have about us.
What do we actually do?
According to PRSA, public relations is a “strategic communication process that builds mutually beneficial relationships between organizations and their publics.” In simple terms, PR professionals build relationships with people, and we leverage those relationships to develop brands and give our clients and customers what they want.
Can anyone do public relations?
Absolutely not. Just like everyone can’t be an actor and everyone can’t be an engineer. It takes a wide variety of strengths to work in PR: strong writing skills, strategic thinking, communication skills, social media expertise, SEO experience and much more. Planning events and speaking on camera are only a fraction of the job.
Why don’t people trust us?
There’s no one answer to this. Some people think that we lie or “spin” the truth all the time. Clients think we’re lazy. And reporters think we’re terrible writers. No matter where we’re standing, there are people who will always think they can do our jobs better than we can. And it doesn’t help that scandals like Enron’s bankruptcy, Toyota’s defect cover-up and Charlie Sheen’s HIV controversy were all aided by some type of public relations professional.
Is it our fault that people don’t trust us?
In part, yes. PR professionals work 40+ hours per week to maintain the reputation of their organization/client. In that case, why is it so hard for us to maintain our own reputation? We have to do our part in showing the public that we aren’t a bunch of money-hungry liars, but that we truly have our stakeholders’ best interests in mind.
How do we start to build this trust?
For those who follow all the rules, just continue to do your job well, and allow others to see your light shine. Always use your PR skills for good, and don’t let negativity affect your motivation. For those who know they can do better or for those who constantly have to be reminded of our core values, I have just a few words for you: GET IT TOGETHER OR FIND A NEW CAREER.
What are your thoughts on PR and how society views it? Let me know in the comment section below!