SEVEN Limitations of Public Relations

The advantages of PR, the strategies, tools and trends are subjects often talked and written about by experts of the profession. What remains untouched and least talked about is the limitations. One may assume that there’s no point talking about the limitations to your clients instead there is the need for all brands and corporate houses to understand the importance of PR and the possibilities therein. But there may be some not so normal clients, brands, people and scenarios that are not so easy to deal with and do PR for. That’s where we realise and need to make the brands realise the limitations of PR. Listing a few limitations, feel free to share from your experience and add in the comments section below.

PR is Not Advertising

That’s an important thing to understand for any brand. Once the thought seeps-in, it’ll be easy for both the consultant and the client in moving forward and relishing the outcome.

The stories or the mentions that appear and the way media portrays a brand or its leadership, it is all the prerogative of the journalist and the editor. PR can at the best try to get the best out of it by way of good media relations and right pitches. But limitations like size, prominence, frequency, date and tone of the story cannot be controlled. That’s just beyond PR’s limit of scope.

PR is not Selling

Like PR is not advertising, likewise PR is not ‘selling’ either. Don’t expect to try to draw parallels between PR and revenue. The two have no connection and relation. What PR does is to get your product or service a reputation. Put your brand in the conscious and sub-conscious mind of the users and customers. PR removes the negative connotation attached to the brand and products. All this leads to creating an ecosystem that promotes sales. But the bottom line is that PR is not there to bring sales.

Guaranteed ROI

PR undoubtedly works on the principle of manifold return on investment. While advertising gets you assured and controlled exposure, the value of editorial coverage is way more than advertisements and PR does that at a fraction of the advertisement cost.

Well, that’s true but that doesn’t mean that a PR push can get anything and everything about you published. Organisations need to understand that there may be times when the stories and announcements don’t get to see desired results.

Overall, manifold ROI from PR is a thing for sure but in exceptions. Each pitch should not be expected to prove the same.

PR cannot Completely Clean the Unclean

There could be brands, personalities, products or incidents that may be witnessing or are in themselves a nothing but a big blot. PR can try to clean the tarnished image and is probably the best tool to do so. But then there is a limitation to its cleaning power.

A tarnished image or a blot on the image cannot be cleaned overnight and also cannot be cleaned completely. There’s a limit to it and much expertise, time and effort required to do the same.

PR No Bunker to Hide

PR consultancy, spokesperson, corporate communications team is in no way a shield to hide behind in times of crisis. Yes, they are the ones who will stand on the frontline, take the direct hit from media and defend the organisation. But that does not mean that the organisation can hide behind them and remain silent observers.

The frontline has to be supplied with the ammunition from within the organisation. Discussing strategy, sketching a plan and taking head-on questions from media is the only way. No PR can act as a shield or provide bunker for you to hide from. Time buying is a different story and that’s one of the advantages of having PR besides you.

No PR out of Nothing

To show a positive image the organisation needs to have one. To build reputation PR would require a base. If there is no image and reputation equally nothing can be promoted about it. Similarly, if there is no news to disseminate, PR can’t get you in the news. You need give talk points. Yes, the expertise of PR can multiply it further but if they don’t get the raw material don’t expect any output too.

No Visibility without Appearance

To get into limelight there has to be a person who walks up to it. Publics want a personal touch, a one-to-one connect. One way announcements, releases and stories don’t work for ever. To influence people and to gain the seat of thought leadership the top brass or the spokesperson(s) will have to shed all inhibitions and come out in public. Interacting with media and making a personal connect takes you way far than you can imagine. But then if the leadership is silent and glare shy, even the best of the PR can’t help beyond a limit.

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Reputation Today is India’s only print magazine for Public Relations and Corporate Communications professionals. It is the official magazine of PRAXIS - India’s largest offsite summit for Public Relations and Corporate Communications.

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