Public relations: the expectations versus the reality


20th March 2022


Leigh-Ann Hewer

Reading time

5 minutes

Thanks to movies, TV shows and books, there are a lot of misconceptions and expectations around PR and publicity and what PRs’ and publicists’ daily lives look like.

In today’s blog, I wanted to break down some of the typical misconceptions surrounding what a career in PR looks like and bring things back to reality.

PR is a wonderful job filled with plenty of excitement, socialising and creativity, but perhaps not in the way you might initially think…

Expectation: You have to have a Samantha Jones persona.

Reality: The best way to network is to be yourself.

Funny enough this is a misconception I’m still struggling with myself. There’s a lot of representation in the media that shows PR pros as charismatic, beautiful, model-type women who ooze confidence and glamour.


In order to be a PR, of course, you need to have confidence and charisma but you’re also allowed to be human. The best way to network and build relationships as a PR is simply to be yourself. Be kind, show interest in others and you can’t go far wrong. Being a PR isn’t about ‘shmoozing’ the room or presenting yourself as the perfect business person; it’s about meaningful and clear communication.

Expectation: PR is flashy and glamourous.

Reality: PR isn’t about stunts and champagne dinners.

You’ll notice that the first few misconceptions are linked. If you’re anything like me before I was in PR, when you hear the term, you’ll probably think “PR stunt”. These can be big and flashy and often over the top ways of gaining coverage. You might think big business, champagne dinners and suits.


In fact, as I’ll explain in further detail later, we’re all about sustainable, consistent, quality coverage over flashy PR stunts. We believe in building trust with the media and with your customers. This happens over time and throwing lots of money at it or pulling a crazy stunt is certainly not always the way to go.

Expectation: We’re always out at coffees and dinners.

Reality: We spend most of our time at our desks.

90% of my job is writing, emails and social media. I do these things sat at my desk, looking at a computer screen. Even pre-pandemic I spent a lot of time in the office. Meetings over dinner and coffee definitely happen: we recently went to The Business Leader Awards which was great fun, but they’re not as common as you think and certainly not as flashy either.

I love the PR office environment, even with just three of us here at Carnsight Comms, there’s a lot of buzz and we always celebrate each other’s achievements. I like meetings with journalists etc but I also like the day-to-day stuff.

Expectation: I’m sociable and good with people – it’ll be easy!

Reality: The learning is never over and there are so many skills to develop.

Being confident, social and good with people is a start, but it’s certainly not all you need to be a good PR. PR is not easy. There are so many skills you will have to develop; SEO, writing, speaking, organisation, pitching, social media (on a technical level), understanding the news cycle, storytelling, researching. The list goes on and on.

There’s a lot more to PR than you might think.

Expectation: One good press hit is all we need.

Reality: You need consistent, quality coverage, national, trade and local.

When new clients come to us, they usually have one or two publications in mind as places they just HAVE to be. Nine times out of ten it’ll be the nationals.

There are immediate things worth flagging:

a) do you have an existing profile? Because if not then it’s sensible to build one before you’re featured in big-name publications. You can read more about building a profile here.

Photo of magazines in a rack

b) do you have a unique and interesting story or opinion? But really, though? They won’t feature you if not.

c) what about trade and local press? They can be superb for reaching your intended audience, SEO and they are just as valid as the big-name nationals. They can help establish you as an industry thought leader and expert. We go into more depth about the importance of local and trade press here.

One big piece of coverage may provide you with temporary attention and we can give you lots of examples of where we’ve achieved that. But, if you want to be a big brand or a household name then you need to think long term. Consider your favourite brand, or a person or brand in your industry that you would like to rival. Think they got where they got by being featured in The Sun, once? Think again.

So there you have it, some PR myths well and truly busted. PR is a wonderful job and I love it! Let’s be rid of the PR myths and talk more about why PR is really a great choice of career.