Stereotypes – can’t live with ’em, can’t live without ’em. I’ve found myself defending this industry countless times after the stereotypes portrayed in the media. Many PR professionals I have spoken with find these embarrassing and discrediting to a whole field of professionals.
Here are some presumptions you may have heard:
- We’re all women
- We lie, cheat, and manipulate to get what we want
- We spend all our time schmoozing clients over lunch
- We get daily freebies
- We’re constantly mingling with celebrities
- Our jobs are easy
The Samantha Jones Stereotype
Despite being a fictional character, Samantha Jones is more known than sleeping with clients rather than being a successful PR practitioner. Samantha is often seen at parties and schmoozing her clients and while yes, that is a part of PR, unfortunately it isn’t always that glamorous.
The Max Clifford Types
One of the UK’s most well known PR practitioners, Max Clifford has openly admitted to lying. He happily admits: ‘I’ve been telling lies on behalf of people, businessmen, politicians and countries for 40 years. It shouldn’t be necessary, but it is. I’d rather be honest, but I cannot be all the time… All PROs at all levels lie through their teeth.’ This of course raises all sorts of questions of credibility and ethics in the industry. Freddie Star Ate My Hamster springs to mind.
No, not the alternative rock band from the 90s, but the dishonest, deceitful, despicable people who give PR a bad rep. Known for constantly ‘spinning’ and twisting the truth, they can’t be trusted.
While we could just laugh this off in the know that these stereotypes are not (mostly) true. However, I feel that education is key to public relations being accepted as a profession. The only way we can banish these stereotypes is by creating new, more positive ones. As Danny Brown says, it isn’t the industry with the problem — it’s some of the people in it.