PR Mythbusters: Six Reality Checks from a PR Pro

MythbustersRecently I had the opportunity to speak with a class of incoming freshmen at Milligan College about careers in public relations. My presentation was called PR Mythbusters.

Myth #1– PR presents many glamorous job opportunities (a la Samantha Jones in Sex and the City.)

Reality:  PR is all about your client and making THEM look good!

Myth #2- PR is about press conferences and press releases.

Reality: While it is true that we create these kinds of events for clients there is a tremendous amount of behind the scenes planning work that goes into what you see on the visible, front end. To be good in PR students must excel at written and verbal communications.

Myth #3- Publicity is only needed when bad things happen.

Reality: Publicity is a two edged sword. Sometimes it can be used to address crises as in a well-thought out crisis communications plan. Other times it can be used for much good as in our recent Socktober campaign with Kid President that brought in over a thousand pairs of new socks for the homeless in our community.

Myth #4– Any publicity is good publicity

Reality: Although Hollywood stars may ascribe to this,  there are times when some of the greatest accomplishments of a public relations professional include keeping a client out of the limelight.

Myth #5– Anyone can do it

Reality: It takes a well trained, well thought out team to execute a top PR plan including strategy and tactics. Our current Up & At ‘Em Turkey Trot PR committee incorporated last season’s Biggest Loser top five finalist Jennifer Messer as grand marshal. Toronto Blue Jays pitcher (and Science Hill High School grad) Daniel Norris is also helping spread the word of the popular Thanksgiving Day Family Fun Run/walk.

Myth #6– Social Media is just for fun

Reality: Social Media, particularly LinkedIn, can be a great connecting tool that will build professional bridges now and in the future. Futhermore using social media well can help build clients personal and professional brands.

What are some PR Myths or reality questions that you may have?

Here is the SlideShare Presentation


  • This sounds like a great presentation for these students. Love the graphic you created – such fun!

    I’d love to get your feedback on using a service like PRweb for doing a press release? I used it recently for my virtual anxiety summit and was very disappointed with the results


    • maryellen says:

      Trudy, I too was very disappointed the one time I used PRweb. My preferred news wire of choice is MarketWire although I have heard good things about PR Newswire and Business Wire. Of course you can also try your luck with the free PR wire services.

  • Sue Painter says:

    Love the slide show, Mel! I think small biz owners need to understand how useful PR can be and the basic do’s and don’ts.

    • maryellen says:

      Thanks Sue. I’m glad you enjoyed the slide show. Yes, I supposed small business owners as well as communications students could benefit from this information.

  • Lisa Manyon says:

    Mary Ellen,

    I agree with you that all publicity is not good publicity. I think people who believe that will damage their reputation or that of their clients, quickly.

    Write on!~


    • maryellen says:

      Lisa, I would venture to say that only certain “Stars” believe all publicity is good publicity. Just look at what’s happening to Bill Cosby at the moment if you had any doubts.

  • I agree with all of your comments. This sounds like a great class:-) It can take time to build trust and credibility with people and one mistake…one wrong move… to completely destroy it. This is where the value of understanding PR comes in. Social media is such a powerful tool and every business owner should manage their online presence in an effective way. I love the slide show, Mel! This was very creative.

    • maryellen says:

      Thanks Tandy, when presenting to today’s college freshmen one needs to keep it lively! I read about that presentation format (Haiku) in my Rotary magazine and my fabulous intern helped me on the creation side. I will let her know that you like it.

  • Marketing Mel I couldn’t agree more with your myths here – so many students I see when I lecture at the university are missing out on critical and essential skills, in particular written and verbal communication. The ability to put together a compelling media release, blog post, pitch document or business letter and then being able to present well and understand others is so critical yet often overlooked or undervalued.

    • maryellen says:

      Heidi I completely agree! I told the students if they weren’t good at both written and verbal communications they had better find another line of work than public relations. Communication skills are essential in so many fields however and I agree that they are often overlooked or undervalued.

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