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As a profession, it is incumbent upon us to educate people on what we can do for organizations. Specifically, this means explaining how our work benefits bottom line goals.

Part of this is showing and telling people what PR is and isn’t.

I’ll begin today with a quick checklist of what PR is NOT:

  1. The department whose sole purpose is to write, edit and hawk press releases.
  2. The biz function whose only raison d’etre is publicity.
  3. A business function that deals with the media and/or bloggers and NOTHING else.
  4. A way to get free advertising – pure and simple.
  5. Ever guaranteed to generate coverage.
  6. Ever 100% controllable.
  7. A profession filled entirely with unctuous jackasses.
  8. Journalism’s bitch.
  9. A highly scientific discipline.
  10. A craft that has figured out – with any sort of consensus – how its true organzational value should be measured.
  11. A business function that many CEOs emerge from.
  12. A profession whose practitioners have sound knowledge of business fundamentals.
  13. The vocation that idiots who could not make it as journalists go into.
  14. Always best carried out by former journalists.
  15. THE ONLY PLACE to house social media.
  16. Very well done – at least today – by people with NO grasp of social media.
  17. A complex voodoo priesthood that can only be carried out by geniuses with tonnes of experience.
  18. Capable of whitewashing all sins.
  19. A profession whose practitioners are all adept at speaking ‘human’.
  20. Necessarily or invariably the adversary of media.
  21. A synonym for spin.

You likely have more ideas about what PR is not. Add them in the comments please.

Join the discussion 16 Comments

  • Krista says:

    Wow, you really hit the nail on the head with most of your list!

    I’d also like to add that PR is NOT the Marketing Department’s enemy. I found with both clients and internal situations that the PR and Marketing groups tend to have an unspoken tension. Sure, we’re competing for budget dollars, but in the end, we’re both supporting the same company/brand/product, right? And said company/brand/product reaps the most when its PR and Marketing departments have their sh*t together and drop the petty turf battles.

  • Great point Krista! One I can definitely relate to. Well said 🙂

  • Amanda Foor says:

    PR is NOT magic.

    I can do my best, but I’m not a magician. If you’re company made a huge mistake, I can try to minimize the damage, but I can’t make it disappear.

  • Cathy says:

    Nice list. Did you really mean #12 as a not? If so I don’t think that’s true.

  • Sara Shake says:

    PR is not GLAMOROUS.

    Get over it aspiring PR Majors, the reality is…if you’re not willing to work for zero or little money to get your foot in the door, then wholeheartedly embrace life BEHIND the scenes/camera/red carpet, PR is not for you…be a beauty blogger instead.

  • Hey Cathy,

    I actually did mean it. I think LOADS of PR people are unable to read balance sheets, income statements, etc. This may partly be due to the very specialized nature of our craft, but it harms us as a profession.

  • Good stuff, Jackson. Re: #12, I agree. I was a guest speaker at PRSSA’s regional conf in Omaha over the weekend and to the student’s question about what other coursework to take (other than Comms/PR), I suggested general business admin. We must be able to communicate to senior management in terms they understand – business/financial terms.

  • Lisa says:

    PR cannot operate without input from the C-suite about business goals and direction. I think the spin reputation comes from so many putting their PR department into a silo without enough information. PR also is not internal communications but, in my opinion, internal communications should be a part of overall PR.

  • Vik says:

    I’m still a bit on the fence about #12. I think it’s important to have a good grasp on the business fundamentals whether in-house or agency-side. Otherwise how can you understand the limitations – and conversely, the opportunities – in the messages behind the stories you’re trying to create and sell. I agree you can’t be an absolute expert, but I think you need enough of a grasp to empower you with the authority to do the PR justice for your ‘clients’, whether external or internal.

    Absolutely fantastic points list of points though, one of those lists that you find yourself talking aloud to while you’re reading them! Great to have them captured, and may be useful to help demonstrate the role we play to those non-PR’s that we support.

  • Corey Witt says:

    Easy. As in, anyone can just do it. Maybe they can try, but they’ll most likely fail because they won’t know how to do the job/project correctly!

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  • Winnie says:

    1. P. R is not propaganda. 2. P. R is not falsehood.

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