Care to Learn the Myths of PR?

Sometime around March this year, I saw a tweet about this book which has just come out; I’m talking about the Myths of PR: All Publicity is Good Publicity and Other Popular Misconceptions (Business Myths) by Rich Leigh. Being in this industry for a fair amount of time already, I thought to myself: “Hey, why not?” It would be great to get clarification on some widespread misconceptions about PR and explore topics I don’t fully understand.

Now that I’m done reading it, I’m going to tell you why you should read it as well!

Before I do that, however, let’s go back to 2016, that is, before I joined Prowly. Back then, there were two “things” I really knew about PR:

  • That it stood for public relations; and
  • That it was the name of the department that makes your company look good (spoiler alert: it’s a myth!)

Now fast-forward to May 2017. I have already talked to over 100 PR managers and read countless materials about the industry, yet I was still hungry for knowledge. And then I saw the tweet I mentioned at the beginning. As a kid I was a big fan of “MythBusters”, so the title caught my attention together with the publisher being Kogan Page (earlier, in February, I read another great book from the same publisher: Social Selling: techniques to influence buyers and changemakers by Tim Hughes—I highly recommend this one too).

So, what’s the book about?

The book goes over 18 myths and misconceptions that exist both in the public understanding of PR and within PR itself. I won’t tell you what the 18 myths are, but here are three things I’ve learnt from the book:

  1. PR can and should be measured – Rich talks a lot on this aspect all over the book and I think he does a great job explaining not only how you can measure PR but also how doing it can benefit you! I’m still in shock after learning how many people in the PR industry don’t track or measure simple stuff like press-release deliverability.
  1. Gender wage gap in PR exists – It is a real problem (and not only in the PR industry). Also, it is not as easy to put a percentage on it as the news make you believe—I enjoyed this chapter the most, even though it probably is the least related to PR. I believe, however, that Rich is approaching the subject from a very nice and maybe a bit controversial angle, also backing it up by some very nice insights from Susan HayesCulleton. I believe that the same perspective should be applied in the more general discussion about the gender pay gap.
  1. You can’t make something go viral – Going viral seems to be the “philosopher’s stone” of the internet era. Seth Godin also talks about it in his “Purple Cow”. Naturally, this book is not the first time I read about it; What makes Leigh’s book different, though, is that he addresses the whole myth that PR agencies around the world are expected to have a solution for going viral.

Why should you read it?

If you work or plan to work in PR, it clarifies some inside misconceptions and brings the spotlight on the changing elements of the industry.

If you’re a client of a PR agency, your agency will definitely appreciate you understanding their struggles and the unrealistic expectations that some clients have from the whole “PR thing.”

Last but not least, it’s a really fun and informative read. Rich’s style of writing makes it a very enjoyable book.

Have you read the book already? How did you find it?