Crenshaw Communications

The Top Ten PR Lies No Client Should Believe

MarketingLand’s 10 Lies You Should Never Believe From SEO Gurus caught my eye, possibly because in the past year I interviewed eight different SEO “experts” while looking for a partner for my PR agency. The experience was educational and impressive, though not in a good way. But the SEO post inspired yet another take on the untruths, myths and misperceptions about public relations. Here are some of our favorites.

PR is free advertising

Not. Earned and paid media are typically not comparable, and they certainly aren’t interchangeable. Ideally, they work in concert. PR can almost never achieve the frequency of paid media, and of course we trade the message control typical of paid advertising for credibility and, often, depth of story.

The more press releases, the more publicity

This myth is dying a slow death, as clients and agencies alike are adapting press release strategies and usage to the news environment, Google algorithms, and sensible communications strategy.

“That’s an A1 story”

Any agency professional who promises a front-page story, or any type of media “placement” in such a predictable way is very likely to be overselling, to put it kindly.

The more keywords, the better

Yep, this appeared on the SEO list as well. It’s not true for SEO, and it certainly doesn’t stand up in PR.

“We have a secret sauce that no one can duplicate”

Yes, we agency folk work very hard to differentiate our businesses, and we can achieve that by dint of talent, smart strategy, and clever use of tools. But no one has a magic bullet.

“At your fee, you’ll get the “A” team”

A client recently told us a large and well-known agency pushed them to sign with this claim, threatening that the “A” team would not be available if the client dallied. Yikes. So does that mean other clients get the B team or worse?

“We can make your ‘crisis’ go away”

Crisis management is really a misnomer. It’s more realistic to talk about anticipation of a negative or harmful event, and basic preparation for a threat to one’s reputation. The key is to focus on good corporate conduct, but in the case of error, to bite the bullet and accept responsibility.

PR drives sales

Well, it can, and when it does, it’s magic. But this one makes me uncomfortable, because PR is typically not a reliable tool for demand generation. (See #1.).

Media relationships are everything

Media relationships mean access, which is the first step in generating earned media. It can also help deliver the type of quality feedback that helps improve a story or persevere. But no amount of closeness will sell a bad story.

“We can guarantee results in the first month”

This one’s not necessarily a lie, but it’s hard to swallow. Anyone who guarantees high-quality media results within a given time period, particularly at the beginning of an engagement, is rolling the dice. We work in an unpredictable news environment, amidst conditions we don’t control, so a more realistic commitment is usually more credible.

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