Debunking common myths about PR
Myth: PR is the same thing as advertising, but less glamorous.
Truth: The fundamental difference is that advertising can be expensive and only exists for as long as you pay for the ad to run. PR is about wielding positive influence—it can be accomplished through inexpensive means and doesn't have an expiration date.
Myth: Every business needs a whole newspaper or magazine article written about them.
Truth: Usually, there are more small businesses in a town than there are local newspaper or magazine spots available to feature articles about them. This kind of coverage can be hard to obtain. But with the right PR efforts, it’s certainly possible to get media attention.
Myth: PR agencies are too expensive for small businesses.
Truth: Large-scale, high-priced PR agencies provide value for enterprises, but they don’t typically suit the needs of everyday small businesses. However, many boutique or independent PR companies and specialist freelancers work in niche sectors and provide affordable services. You can also work with publicists on a coaching or freelance basis to learn what you need to handle PR yourself.
Myth: You have to be a well-known business to be great at PR.
Truth: Successful PR means different things to different businesses at different stages of their growth. Your business doesn’t have to be on prime-time television or the topic of household conversations to do PR well. Focus on attainable goals and the steps needed to get there.
Myth: You should send press releases as far and wide as you can.
Truth: In lieu of having press contacts, many small business owners adopt a “spray and pray” tactic. They purchase a list of journalists who may be somewhat related to their industry, and they bombard them all with a press release. To most writers, this is spam. It’s wiser to build real relationships with people in the media by sending thoughtful, personalized releases to those in your circle.
Myth: You need a “black book” of contacts.
Truth: Contacts are always useful, but focus on the message before focusing on building contacts. Learn how to pitch your story, emphasizing the benefit it offers to a publication’s audience. Be responsive and accommodating to journalists so that you gain a reputation of being easy to work with. This will help you build press relationships and get more coverage.
Myth: You can buy great PR in a newspaper or magazine.
Truth: This is called advertising. You can’t tell a journalist what to say or ask to check their copy before it appears in print, but you can seed the idea of a story by pitching story angles. If you want to control exactly what’s written about your business, you’re better off paying for advertorials or distributing marketing materials.