It’s interesting to discuss ways people often perceive public relations in our world today. PR for decades now has been portrayed consistently in the media negatively, providing conflicting images that have now become part of how the public perceives it. Perceptions about PR are often not given attention and this tends to affect the perceived credibility of the public relations career thereby influencing how people lack cultured values for public relations and its principles to our society.

PR Career

Public relations as a career is simple yet delicate and often misunderstood. Surprisingly, most individuals that tend to misunderstand Public Relations are often small business owners. They feel they actually do not need it and public relations is meant for large businesses. Speaking of public relations, it’s pretty straightforward and can be defined as developing, managing, and incorporating strategies to ensure that a brand or company relates positively to its audience.


The Public Relations Society of America defines public relations as a mutually beneficial relationship established between companies and the public on the basis of strategic communication. After looking at these definitions, there are still perceptions of public relations and we will be discussing the top 10 ways in which people perceive public relations in our world today in this article.

#1. Public Relations Is Not A Lead Generation Service

Over the last 5 years of my Public Relations career, I come across clients in the workspace asking me to do public relations services that would generate leads. Imagine a brand that has been in business for over 6 – 7 years and hasn’t gotten sales, their names are not popular and one day the owners will reach out to a PR agent to help them generate leads. They come boldly and say “PR is the same as advertising” and when I say “No, it’s not.” Then I’m not the candidate for their job.

Ask Questions During Consultations!

Wow! It’s funny after booking a consultation with people to elaborate more on PR, they say they’ve been there before and wasted money yet no results. Story for another day. Public Relations is not a lead generation service which leads me to the next one.

#2. Public Relations Is Not Advertising.

PR is not advertising yet people often see it as such because both help to communicate to organizations’ target audiences and build brands. Public relations are earned media through the platform of providing information through pitches and press releases. In PR, there’s two-way communication that involves the company and the public where the company listens and responds to the public responsively. Advertising on the other hand is paid media and a monologue.

#3. Public Relations Are Not Stunts

Stunts can be defined as a made-you-look moment created on purpose for publicity’s sake. Surprisingly, a stunt does not try to achieve anything more than news headlines. Public relations is mindful of how the public perceives a brand, hence they always consider feedback from the public, and they listen to the public. Some brands with no proper knowledge of public relations have used stunts a lot for their brands and they call it public relations. Public relations works to achieve the brand’s mission and communicate its core values to consumers. This is not what stunts do.


Ask Questions During Consultations!

Public relations is always planned strategies and sustained efforts. Public relations is not a stunt. Instead, public relations works hard to meet communication objectives that support brand initiatives and strive to maintain long-term organizational goals. Stunts are just one and done but PR continues to build and sustain a mutually beneficial relationship with a brand and its customers.

#4. Public Relations Is Not Gossips

Public relations is the act of creating positive word-of-mouth communications. PR is telling a brand’s story and facilitating that word of mouth. Gossip or tattling is malicious, targeted, and deliberate with the intention to cause ruin to an individual or a brand. For the record, rumors and gossip are not the same. Gossips do change before it gets to the last person in the room, as one person hears a piece of information, others may not get the exact information and this is not the case with PR, information for one person is the same for all.

#5. Public Relations Is Not Marketing

The similarity between marketing and public relations is that both involve communication with the public. Marketing involves creating processes to communicate a product or service and delivering these products in exchange for customer or public value. PR still maintains the brand’s image, and marketing thinks about selling a product to the public and creating a perception of the product. PR is more realistic and neither a subset of marketing.

Image Credit: Beatrice S. Ereziwosa (Made with Canva)

Read also about World PR Day

#6. Public Relations Is Not Public Affairs

Both are synonymous. PR is often misinterpreted for public affairs when used in the context of military and government. In the PR career, a public affair is a subset of the public relations function that handles policies, social issues, government relations, and lobbying

#7. Public Relations Is Not Selling

Because both PR and selling involve customer feedback does not mean they are the same. Selling involves in-person-direct contact with customers or prospective customers for negotiation of a product to be purchased. PR helps with the brand’s identity as they tend to understand the public more. Both are not the same.

#8. PR Is not Media Relations

Media relations is a specialty in PR and the process that involves working with the media to inform the public about an organization’s policies, mission, or vision to sustain positive relationships between the organizations and their brands. So after today, you can’t call PR Media Relations as this is a specialty in PR.

#9. Public Relations Is Not Coated Words To Idolize A Brand

 PR is not coated words or just mere words remember the public you’re sending a message across. It tells a story. that involves trust, honesty, loyalty, and more. Doing so responsibly by adding the right words and actions as they are not painting or sugar coating makes you responsible in the PR field. A PR professional can help a brand from nothing to something using words and actions. Coated words will eventually fade away and PR is on a long-term run.

#10. PR Is Not Hitting Targets

Public Relations is a mutually beneficial human relationship formed with respect, not with the goal of hitting targets.
Humans are not objects and hence the idea of hitting targets as PR is forbidden.

I hope this article on 10 ways people often perceive Public relations in our world today has been informative. Now you can differentiate this to your advantage.

Lastly, I’d like to conclude with this, PR Is Also Not A Profession Filled Will Nerds, Arrogants & Unctuous Humans. Public relation is an interesting career with amazing people and we love our jobs. It’s a remarkable feeling to wake up in the morning with a refreshing smile and love what you do.

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Beatrice Sargin Ereziwosa
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