#AHAMOMENT: RITA ABOUT PR

Public relations term in slang often referred to as a piar. Often causes negative associations and is surrounded by myths. We asked people on the street if they know what piar manager means and what they think the work of professionals in the field looks like. Our team leader Rita Saunorytė Norutienė shares her inspiration.

Here are some of the most interesting and common myths about public relations and explanation as why they are often incorrect.

First myth: public relations specialist „creates fake news“. Communication specialist are able to present a simple message in a way to make it interesting news. They are able to discover what others do not notice and highlight it. However fake news is not created or does not spread by ethical public relations specialists.

First of all, spreading fake news or false facts is illegal. Secondly, even if we talk about what is not there we would only get a short-term effect.

Here it is worth remembering the allegory with the monkey: we can dress her up in  nice clothes and hide that she is an animal, but just drop her a banana she will jump to the banana revealing her full nature.

The same would happen with fake news or concealment of true – sooner or later they not only come out but also cause even more trouble and cause a crisis situation. Or makes you the object of ridicule all over the world. You say, two tourists from Russia visited Salisbury and been interested in the spectacular spire of the church? Really!?

Second myth: public relations specialist „trying to advertise something“. Public relations are often confused with advertising. Of course, the further away, the more the boundaries between all forms of communication disappears and everyone starts to „do everything“ – advertising agencies write reports for the media and work with influencers and public relation agencies orders billboards, creates videos and manages social networks.

However the main difference between these two areas is that the PR is not direct advertising. It is joked that advertising is a saying, that you are good, and public relations – when someone says that about you. Or think so. That is why we work.

Third myth: public relations specialists „collects information about voters and influences them“. It is not a secret that until politicians do something wrong, many voters know little about him. Especially if he doesn’t have a professional public relations specialists on the side (no, the assistant to the member of the Seimas is not the same).

Usually, in such cases, one politician’s mistake sounds widely and then even a public relations specialist doesn’t find it easy to help him or her. A professional communication specialist is very much needed by a politician, because it helps to communicate his/her political ideas and activities, and regular information spreading increases transparency and credibility. Although politicians usually call piar managers before the election and when a crisis occurs. They also like to say to the opponents: „It was just public relations or the piar of this politician“.

Public relations specialist would not be able to physically gather voters information. They are usually relying on data from social surveys and polls – who votes for what and why. Still, a good public relations specialist will always find opportunities to talk to the voters. No, not to influence them – to understand their speaking tone, vocabulary and current issues. And later in a language they understand, they could tell them about the proposed solutions of the problems.

Fourth myth: public relations specialist strives to „hear as much as possible what is not there and sell what is not there“. The goal of public relations is rarely direct sales and measuring communication results in sales would also not be entirely accurate. The most common goals pursued by public relations specialist are to build a reputation, increase the awareness of a company, organization or brand, report events, news, create events or tools to communicate with customers, journalists, partners or raise issues that are currently relevant to the public.

For example, if our customer were a new soap manufacturer and would like people to learn about this product and appreciate it, most likely to take these classic steps: share the experience advice gained by the manufacturer of this soap on the topic of hand hygiene because they worked hard and for a long time, studied the properties and effects of soap. We would help the accumulated expertise to share with many people what he has so far only told his friends.

If specialists say that  Lithuanians wash their hands too little, we will also raise this issue, we will talk about the dangers posed by poor hygiene, explain how and why to wash your hands and the importance of soap here. Still, it will have to be a real soap and it will definitely have to perform its function well, as a real public relations specialist will try it before starting work.

In a sense of not myth: public relations specialist  „prepares the stage for the theater“. We were entertained by the person who responded that the work of the public relations specialist was to prepare the stage in the theater. This could in part be an allegory of public relations work. Of course, we are not literally preparing a stage in a theater, but if we consider public space as a stage, and our lives – theater, then really: sometimes we contribute to the preparation of the stage, sometimes we help to prepare the actors, sometimes we write the text of a play and help create an indelible impression on the audience.

There were also people who said that the public relations specialist were working to make life better in Lithuania. Yes – we are really trying!