Chances are you’re in PR to become the next Samantha Jones, right? I was chatting with a friend the other day about this common misperception that life as a PR professional is something straight out of “Sex and the City.” As most of us in the industry quickly realized, this is not the case.

This convo with my friend got me thinking about all the other myths about PR and marketing that must be out there these days. One of the biggest I’d heard before coming to SHIFT is that agency life is cutthroat and everyone’s just out to get ahead. After a year at the Agency, I can safely say that we can consider this myth busted. I’ve never worked in a place where my colleagues – leadership and junior staff alike – are so willing to do what they personally can to further my professional growth. Yes, we’re all motivated, but this doesn’t come at the expense of our professionalism and overall character.

To get a better feel for the other myths out there, I turned to a few of my fellow SHIFTers. Here are five of their favorite misperceptions about PR and marketing along with some thoughts on the reality behind each of them.

“If you interview with a reporter, that means the next day a story will run.” 

This is not always the case. It can sometimes take weeks and even months for a story to run after conducting an interview. It’s also important to make sure you have something of value or interest to provide the journalist. If your comments fall flat and don’t offer something new or different, the journalist may not to include them. If your thoughts don’t end up being relevant or timely and the reporter is working on other stories, more timely news may trump yours. Also, an interview may occasionally end up serving as an opportunity for the journalist to learn more about you and your company’s background and to come back to you as a resource down the road.

“All marketing pros are PR pros.”

Marketing and PR professionals often have similar skills sets, but they don’t do the same jobs. At a fundamental level, the role of PR pros is typically much more media-oriented, while marketing is heavier on data, measurement and driving sales. Although different, PR and marketing complement each other, as SHIFTers well know with our Earned Media Hub PR Strategy. While our skills sets are increasingly converging, we can’t expect marketing teams to know the ins and outs of pitching business press or PR pros to know every aspect of data analysis. 

“The main job of PR pros is to go to parties and schmooze.” 

Sure, we’d all love to be schmoozing with celebrities and sipping cocktails at high-class galas on the regular, but this isn’t the reality for most of us. Yes, schmoozing is part of the job from time to time, but isn’t that true for any profession? A PR pro’s job is done in the name of earned media and driving media coverage for our companies or agency clients. This involves spending our days researching, strategizing, writing, pitching and, on occasion, visiting the kegerator. When it comes to the role of a PR pro, it always goes back to being as outstanding as possible on behalf of our companies and clients.

“Creativity only exists in advertising.” 

Advertising is often associated with clever Super Bowl commercials and crazy viral stunts. While creativity is key for the advertisers behind these, it’s equally as important in PR and marketing. PR pros have to be incredibly crafty in their writing, planning and how they pitch clients to journalists who are inundated with pitches. Marketers are always looking to dig up innovative insights from piles of data, write ingeniously on social media and create fresh content that resonates with audiences. Yes, PR, marketing and advertising all strive to set client campaigns apart while working to keep their messaging on point. We all just flex our creative muscles differently in the process.

“PR involves mostly face-to-face interactions.” 

Face time is a big part of PR and marketing, whether it’s meeting with clients, working events or pitching new business. But the industry isn’t all about face-to-face interactions, as seen in the myth above. PR and marketing pros are constantly in front of their screens writing, emailing and tweeting; on the phone working relationships with clients and reporters; and in internal meetings brainstorming, strategizing and planning. Much of this in-office work done behind the scenes then sets the stage for the all-important face-to-face interactions.

These are only a few of the misperceptions about PR and marketing, which we hear everywhere from networking events to Uber rides to ongoing convos with parents still trying to determine what exactly we do. As long as we have on-screen characters like Samantha Jones or even Don Draper in “Mad Men,” these myths aren’t going anywhere anytime soon. And as both broad fields continue to evolve in today’s digital landscape, so too will people’s perceptions of them.

Keep in Touch

Want fresh perspective on communications trends & strategy? Sign up for the SHIFT/ahead newsletter.

Ready to shift ahead?

Let's talk