PR Myths and Misconceptions

I don’t know about you, but I was over the moon when the cast of Sex and the City confirmed a reboot of the hit television series. Cosmos, anyone? But one noticeable cast member missing from the reboot will be Samantha Jones played by Kim Cattrall. While I envisioned what the show’s storyline will be like, I started thinking about the infamous Samantha Jones and her role as a publicist on the HBO series. Surprisingly to some, Samantha’s day-to-day tasks as a publicist rarely mimicked the life of most PR professionals.

With that said, let’s break down some myths and misconceptions about public relations.

    • The Samantha Jones Syndrome: Most people who have watched Sex and the City probably think public relations is all about party planning, attending lavish events and traveling the world with well-known CEOs and celebrities. However, public relations is very different and involves a wide range of tasks and skills. Some in the industry have even called the public’s perception of publicity based on Sex and the City the “Samantha Jones Syndrome.”
      Her role as a publicist portrays public relations as a role primarily held by women who enjoy drinking cocktails with their clients at an A-list party. But in reality, public relations positions are held by women and men from all backgrounds, and while these PR pros may organize or attend events and parties, it is not their primary responsibility. Public relations is exactly what it says – a relationship with the public. PR professionals work hard to create effective communication and relationships with the public and media to influence the target audience.


  • Any Press is Good Press: For quite some time, there was this notion that any press is good press. Many even thought that negative press was good press because it got the brand’s name in the media. But this is completely inaccurate and misleading. Negative press can harm a brand beyond repair and damage the brand’s relationship with the public. Luckily this strategy is losing steam.
  • PR is Solely Press Releases and Press Conferences: Another myth which is opposite of the “Samantha Jones Syndrome” is that public relations professionals only write press releases and plan press conferences. While many PR pros spend time drafting press releases and planning press conferences, there are a multitude of other projects that PR pros work on. Public relations is an ever-evolving field because it deals primarily with communication. The way companies communicate with the public today is far different than how they communicated 20 years ago and likely very different from how they will communicate in 2040. With more communication happening online, PR pros also help strategize their clients’ online presence through thoughtfully curated website content and social media planning.
  • PR Means Controlling the Press: One of the worst things you can do is tell a reporter how to do their job, what to ask, what not to ask, who they can or can’t interview, etc. By doing so, you are basically putting a sign over your head that says, “Juicy story hiding here, keep digging.” No one can control the press, not even PR pros, and no one should. The press are here to cover the truth, not a fabricated story. But PR pros can communicate smart and effectively when presenting a story idea to positively enhance their client’s relationship with the public.

As the public relations industry continues to grow, it is important to educate current and prospective clients on what public relations professionals actually do. The myths and misconceptions must be addressed so that clients better understand what they are hiring us to do.

While I’d love to be sipping cosmos on a yacht fielding calls for Leonardo DiCaprio, that is not the life of most PR pros and it is important we debunk this idea of what public relations is so that we can better serve our clients.

If you are in need of an effective PR strategy, don’t hesitate to reach out. Give us call: (804) 510-0039.


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