LCI Blog: Public Relations “Mythbusters”

By Donna Berry Glass
Senior Counselor, Landis Communications, Inc.
Mythbusters,” the quirky-yet-informative science show on Discovery Channel, is filming at the site of an LCI client this week and we’re super excited to see how it turns out. The California Academy of Sciences is excited too, as the show will push its Earthquake exhibit into the spotlight. To see what “Mythbusters” is doing, you’ll have to tune in this December.
In the meantime, the process also got LCI thinking about PR “mythbusters” (I have to give my colleague, Rob Farmer, kudos for coming up with the idea). Public relations professionals have been called spinmeisters, flacks, gatekeepers and more. But what’s the truth and what’s a myth?
I polled my colleagues and here are a few of our picks:
MYTH: PR Professionals can call in “favors” and always get a story for their client.
BUSTED: Yes and no. Mostly no. The “it’s all about who you know” adage is false. The reality is, “it’s about who you know AND what you bring them.” At LCI, we work hard to build relationships with media. But as with any relationship, we don’t want to abuse it. From time to time, however, we will call and ask our media friends if they can help. But if it’s not the right story, it won’t happen. In other words, the story idea has to be good and relevant for our favors to work. A good PR pro has a sense about what’s right for whom.
MYTH: We revised our website – this is huge news! It deserves a press release!
BUSTED: There’s a time and a place for a press release: Introducing new products, senior management announcements, announcing a new round of financing, new store openings, etc. In other words, big news. Too often, press releases are used for what we call “non-news.” Our job as PR counselors is to advise our clients on what is press release-worthy, and what is better handled with a pitch letter or a social media campaign, or another technique in our PR toolbox. If you send out too many “non-news” press releases, the media will stop listening pretty quickly.
MYTH: We’re launching in two weeks and want to hire you to do our PR! You can do that, right?
BUSTED: One mistake we see over and over again is companies factoring in absolutely no planning to the communications process. Not only do we need time to formulate a strategy, we also need time for drafting your press materials, training you on how to communicate with the media, and to research your competitors so we know what we are up against. This takes time and should start several months before you launch.  We must also factor in response time. Chances are, media are not going to drop what they are doing to write your story. Like us, they need time to develop the story, conduct interviews, perhaps even stage a photo shoot.
MYTH: PR agencies charge high rates but can always do it for less.
BUSTED: Would you ask your lawyer to represent you for less? Probably not. PR is a professional service. Fees represent our brainpower, our creative thinking, our experience, storytelling abilities and our media relationships. We set our rates based on what these services cost and what they are worth to you (it’s been proven that PR is the most cost effective marketing tool, dollar for dollar). So please don’t ask us to give you a discount if you can’t really afford to pay us what we’re worth.
What is your favorite “PR Myth”?  Please comment below, or you can send an email to [email protected] or [email protected].

6 thoughts on “LCI Blog: Public Relations “Mythbusters”

  1. Donna – There are good PR people and there are not so good PR people. Busting these myths makes me think you’re one of the good ones! 😉

  2. Donna,
    Great blog on busting PR myths! Far too many companies are looking for “quick” coverage instead of seeking a strategic partner who will provide longevity to their PR campaign and initiatives. I especially liked your example of rates and questioning other service providers. I don’t question my dog walker about their rates because I know they are providing the best care for my pup (who I only entrust to the very best) – you get what you pay for and PR is an investment.
    PS: Good luck on the “Mythbusters” segment – looking forward to seeing it in December (another great example of how long relationships and coverage takes to appear!).

  3. Donna: Great Post. I’ll bet you can guess my favorite. Yes, that’s right, the last one. PR professionals add great value to help businesses grow and deserve to be paid accordingly. And, seriously, have you ever heard of a client asking their lawyer to do something for half price? Cheers, David

  4. Donna, great job. There are many “myths” related to our industry. Thanks for helping dispel a few of the biggies! –Rob

  5. Myth: all PR people do is schmooz. Busted: I don’t think the speech we wrote, the community relations program we designed, the crisis communication we handled or the media training we conducted qualify as “schmoozing.” Great post, Donna.

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