Breaking Public Relations Stereotypes

Graphic from learn.gr.com contrasting public relations to advertising

Photo courtesy of learn.gr.com.

There are many myths people outside the communications world believe about public relations professionals. I am here to debunk a few of these stereotypes.

1. Liar, Liar.

The No. 1 stereotype of public relations professionals is they spin the truth and display dishonesty. This could not be further from the truth. Public relations people are all about accuracy and honesty, and a career can be ruined if wrong information is put out.

2. What is public relations again?

Another misconception is what public relations professionals do in their day-to-day jobs. Many people think public relations is the same as advertising and marketing. Public relations certainly has some aspects of those things, but there is so much more to the industry. The beauty of public relations is its diversity and wide range of positions within the field. You can write press releases, manage social media platforms, graphic design, plan events and the list goes on. You name it and a public relations professional (probably) does it.

3. Public relations is a new profession.

Public relations has been around longer than social media and even the internet itself. Public relations has been used since the age of the ancient Olympics to promote the games. It was also used during the Boston Tea Party to motivate people to protest. While the profession has certainly evolved over the years, it serves the same purpose it did back then.

4. Public relations is only needed by big companies.

Every business, company and organization needs and uses public relations. Public relations is essentially relations with publics, whether it be writing content for a website, developing a crisis communication plan, building a brand’s image through social media or executing media relations events. Public relations is used to build effective and beneficial relationships with target audiences while promoting positive brand image. Whether it’s a company, organization or even an individual, public relations is needed and used all over the spectrum.

5. All public relations professionals are extroverts.

The industry needs all types of people as there are many different organizations and forms of public relations. It doesn’t matter if you are shy, quiet and reserved or outgoing and overly expressive. The beauty of public relations is that it is so diverse and has such a wide range of jobs that there is something for everyone.

Those are just some of the stereotypes of the public relations profession. While the industry does have somewhat of a darker past, it has evolved over the years to be a very diverse and respected profession.


Bailey Talaska is a sophomore at Central Michigan University studying integrated public relations and nonprofit administration. She would like to handle the public relations for a nonprofit someday.

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