By Monica Aza

If you work in public relations or you’re studying PR, chances are you’ve had to explain what it is that you actually do.

Public Relations? What does that mean? is a phrase PR professionals are all too familiar with. We break down some of the myths surrounding the industry.

“Oh, you’re in PR? Are you like Olivia Pope?”
This powerhouse of a woman from the popular TV show Scandal seems to be a benchmark for what a public relations professional looks like. Say “crisis communications” to anyone not working in PR and chances are they will associate it with Ms. Pope, a self-proclaimed fixer of publicity disasters. While there is no denying that the show draws on many elements of PR, it is not necessarily accurate. You probably won’t be covering up the affairs of politicians or attending state dinners at the White House.

“Public relations, as in a publicist like Samantha Jones?”
Samantha Jones, a fictional New York publicist portrayed in HBO’s Sex and the City is another example of a PR stereotype. A lot of misconceptions about the PR industry are rooted in this particular show. Most people believe you work with celebrities all day, attend fabulous parties and schmooze with executives and CEOs. While being a publicist is certainly an aspect of PR, it is not as common of a job as you might think.

“Do you spend all day tweeting or using Instagram?”
Social media undeniably plays a huge role in the everyday lives of communications professionals. However, it is not the only thing we do nor do we spend all day doing it.

“Aren’t public relations and marketing the same thing?”
Not exactly. Marketing is paid publicity while public relations is publicity gained through building relationships and networking. To put it as simply as we can, marketing gets your product on a billboard. PR gets your product on the front page of a newspaper or a favourable review in an online publication.

For more myths surrounding the PR industry read here. What are some PR myths you’ve heard of before?

See also: What’s the State of PR’s Public Relations


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