PR stereotypes: Fact or fiction?

Like many industries, PRs are a highly stereotyped bunch. Remember Lizzie Grubman or MTV’s PoweR Girls? What about Samantha Jones on Sex in the City? Many continue to think of PR folks as either glorified party planners or publicists for celebs.

What’s more, ask 10 people what PR people do and you’re likely to get 10 different answers. It’s just a tough industry to define. Heck, we’ve been trying to accurately define it ourselves for as long as I can remember.

But, nevertheless, the stereotypes endure. Today, I thought we’d look at a few of the more pervasive stereotypes and if they’re really true.

Sam Jones

Stereotype: All PRs are Democrats

Fiction. Although from my experience our industry leans pretty heavily to the left, I’m guessing there are a fair amount of centrists or Republicans in our midst.

Stereotype: All PRs are outgoing people

Fiction. Some of the better PR people out there are self-professed introverts (Jen Kane and Gini Dietrich come to mind).

Stereotype: All PRs are good writers

Fiction. Definitely fiction. Sadly fiction. Our industry is rife with people who couldn’t write their way out of a shoebox. I don’t think I’m stating anything outrageous here. And, as I blogged earlier this week, the future isn’t as bright as we’d like it to be.

Stereotypes: All PRs have degrees in communications/PR

Fiction. On the agency side, specifically, people come from different backgrounds. I’ve worked with people who have degrees in Poly Sci, Biology, English, and Mathematics.

Stereotype: All PRs are hyper-organized

Fact. Probably not “all”, but darn close. People don’t survive in this industry unless they’re organized.

Stereotype: All PR people have a TV in their office (and it’s always on)

Fiction. This is a stereotype from 1994. Today’s PR person not only has a TV in his/her office, but they also have 3-4 screens going at any given time with Tweetdeck open and other social feeds from which they’re gathering all sort of trend and client data.

Stereotype: All PR people are work-a-holics

Fiction. Work SMARTER not harder. That’s the mantra of the PR pro of 2013.

Stereotype: All PR people dress “on trend”

Fiction. While people on the agency side are typically always on trend, those on the corporate and non-profit sides (not all, but some) have been known to be more “conservative.” And, I won’t even tell you what I wear during the day while working in my home office or from my new digs at CoCo.

Stereotype: All PR people drink mass amounts of coffee

Fact (generally). The PR industry runs on Dunkin ūüėČ (or Caribou here in MSP–please Dunkin come to MSP!!!)

Stereotype: PR agency people are more creative than corporate types

Fiction: I know some pretty creative people on both sides of the PR fence. Creativity is not just relegated to the agency folks.

Stereotype: All PR people are women

Fiction. But virtually a fact ūüôā The ratio is easily 80-20 in our industry.


OK, so which stereotypes did I miss?

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6 comments on “PR stereotypes: Fact or fiction?

  1. susancellura says:

    How about “all PR people do is spin the truth/lie”?

  2. Catherine Lester says:

    A majority of my responses were Fact, which means I fit the stereotype. I’m certainly no Lizzie or Samantha, but a lot of the characteristics were true. It’s up to you, Arik to break the mold.¬†
    I’m going to share your article with some PR college students to find out what they think.

  3. emilyvontom says:

    That coffee thing?¬†Totally¬†fiction. I can’t stand coffee!!

  4. ginidietrich says:

    I’m with @emilyvontom¬†on the coffee thing. What about the stereotype of all PR pros being clacking women (both talking and heels)? That and the wireless headset in your ear with your BlackBerry in your hand. People always seem to think that’s how we behave.

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