Public Relations Nation

      33 Comments on Public Relations Nation

Jeff Morosoff, Special Asst. Professor, Hofstra University

It’s “Just PR”

When I was a teenager, I would listen to the rock opera “Jesus Christ Superstar” over and over again, especially because Ian Gillan, lead singer of rock band Deep Purple, sang the part of Jesus.  In the title song there is a line, “Could Mohammed move a mountain or was that just PR?” 

Now, having nothing at that point of my life related to the profession of public relations, I took the line to equate “PR” with trickery or some level of deceit.  I learned later, of course, that the positive good coming from public relations professionals far outweighs the bad.  But we’re not perceived that way by a good percentage of the population, and as PR people we know that perception can be everything. 

You hear the phrase a lot.  It’s “just PR.”  When used, it means that someone believes words and images are being manipulated to portray an untruth.  So why, then, would anyone want to major in public relations — and then work in it — if the field is often maligned as spin and false communication?  I wonder how you would answer that question.  Because you will be asked.   Your thoughts?

33 thoughts on “Public Relations Nation

  1. Heather Glazewski

    I think PR is more informative that it is manipulative. The public is smart, it knows when companies are trying to push them other ways. PR just is there to let people know about things. I decided on PR because I always loved informing my friends about the great bands or concerts coming that we had to go to. I joined Street Teams to promote bands in HS and I fell in love with the feeling that when I found a new band and my friends began to love it just as much. I knew then I wanted to make a career out of sharing things I loved with other people.

  2. Whitney Steiner

    Like everything else in life, it can be seen as good or bad depending on the situation and the person. people usually think of PR negatively because they relate it to negative situations. For example, trying to fix a company’s image after an oil spill. Many people don’t seem to realize that PR is much more than that. I work with PR at an animal rescue and rehabilitation organization and a large part of that is fund raising and finding ways to gain recognition. That is PR too but unfortunately many don’t realize that. Until there is a way to educate society about PR as a whole, I think that that negative stigma is going to stick with us.

  3. Tori

    The industry of Public Relations has been faced with a host of misconceptions. It is an industry that is often perceived as unnecessary and surrounded by the art of spin. The reason public relation professionals HATE the word spin is because it is simply a euphemism for a lie. However, people’s perceptions did not come from thin air. There are plenty of professionals in our industry who DO lie which has in turn, paved the way for PR’s bad reputation. If you practice ethical standards and hold your reputation in a high regard, then there is no reason to be called a “spinster.” Despite PR’s bad reputation, I majored in this field because it allows me to exercise many different skills and challenges me in a way that I find interesting. I also believe in the good in public relations, the industry presents many ways to get involved in good causes and presents the opportunity to have a voice. Therefore, I do not believe public relations to be an industry about spin, and manipulation of the truth.

  4. Danielle Pasquariello


    Although many people may view PR as “spin,” PR plays a vital role in today’s society. Public Relations is a way of connecting with a particular audience, and making them aware of something they may not have had any knowledge of previously. As long as the industry and PR professionals are committed to being completely transparent in the way they conduct their business, the PR industry can start to chip away at the somewhat negative connotations it has. Through internships I have had during my college career, I am certain that this is the field for me. I enjoy all aspects of the PR industry, and look forward to a career in PR!

  5. Megan Messina

    I agree with what Jillian said about television feeding into the misconception of what PR is. These “reality” shows about the life of public relations professionals are scripted and edited and therefore portray a negative and untrue image. It is hard to explain to people what public relations is because you have to get past the preconceived notion of “spin is PR”. To me, public relations is helping communication between your clients and their publics and helping the client get their message across. That is what I most look foward to as I continue my education into a career.

  6. Jill Archibald

    I think what is really frustrating about being a PR major is having other majors think that yours isn’t a “real” major, or that we’re taking the easy way out. This negative perception of public relations has so much to do with the fact that people truly believe that our job is to “spin” the bad stories into positive publicity for clients. The fact that there is a show called “The Spin Crowd” certainly doesn’t help to spread the true message of what a PR person does.
    I agree with Maureen in the sense that if I really believed that public relations meant being a professional liar I wouldn’t be in your class. I am interested in public relations because I want to be able to take on clients who have messages, products, or services that I too believe in.

  7. Jillian Decker

    I would of never chosen PR as my major if I thought that it was an industry made up of just spin and manipulation. I believe Public Relations is to educate the public and to help better a company’s reputation . There definitely are PR companies that do manipulate and spin their information, but when I graduate I’ll choose to not work for a company that stands for it. The people that see PR as “just PR” don’t truly understand how hard people in the PR industry work. I feel they just don’t get what PR really is. When I first chose PR as my major 4 years ago I wasn’t exactly sure if I was making the right decision. But after taking all my PR classes I realized that I couldn’t have chosen a better major. I really enjoy PR and everything it stands for.

  8. Charlsie

    I think the false claims and trickery goes a long with how Public Relations was developed and its very early uses. However we seem to be light years away from what that was and moved to how its uses and functions can be seen across the board in journalism, online media, movies, tv, and even in the street. It is something that can be used globally and locally. That’s probably why so many people choose it as their profession, or why many people happen to fall into it. I know my mom did, and that’s why I wanted to do it.

  9. Sarah Facciolo

    Hi Professor Morosoff,

    As a Public Relations major choosing this major was not easy for me at first. I really did not know what I wanted to do exactly. I really did not know anything about Public Relations and what it can do. But as I did my research and met some people as I was applying to college really got my attention on this major. But I do feel there are a lot of reasons why people use the terms “its just PR”

    For one I believe that people think we are just about the media either there to make things seem better when they are not. We are also changing the ways of what people think. I think we can be seen as the paparazzi but in a different way.

    But what the world does not know is that it takes a lot of work to do what we do in our industry. We are the ones making a big difference in peoples and our companies lives. We are the ones that make the success for our clients and at the same time getting success with them. I always said that “your success is my success” in PR, meaning that seeing change and growth in what ever we do shows the kind of work that we do for our industry.

  10. Lauren Katz

    Hi Professor Morosoff,

    As a sophomore Public Relations major looking at the field as a way of spending the rest of my life, I think that there are a great many reasons people become interested in PR.

    For one, a negative reputation often provides people with the idea that they may be able to bring about a change in something. For instance: revolutionize the way people see PR.

    Personally, I think that the PR field comes with a challenge that can come with an unparalleled reward. Working through negative attitudes and achieving a goal is something that can bring great happiness not only for yourself but for those you are helping. Maybe you have to defend a few of the less favorable clients out there, but you are always working hard and allowing yourself to be challenged.

  11. Nicole Magnacavello

    Hi Professor Morosoff:

    As a public relations major I have heard the comments about manipulation and twist and how others scrutinize PR work. I decided on becoming a PR major because it’s interesting. It’s constantly changing and whether it’s bad or bad public, it’s publicity and there are public relations people who get the information out there. I don’t think PR people spin stories, I think that creatively we make the story fit the situation and we make sure our clients are handled in a way that is truthful and honest. I also was interested in PR because there are so many opportunities out there. If there’s one thing I’ve learned, nothing remains the same, it’s always changing and public relations exemplifies that perfectly.

  12. Paul Chauvin

    Professor Morosoff,

    I came into Hofstra as a Public Relations major without knowing much about the field or why I wanted it to be my major. What I knew was that many different companies and organizations had jobs for PR people, and that was good enough for me.

    I think one of the reasons that PR has such a bad public image is that it fits really well in some cases. It has the potential to be gross and exploitative, so I can understand how someone can get a negative impression of public relations.

    The best way to combat this is to show people the good that PR can do, which I hope I’ll be able to do after graduating. There is a power to bring the public’s attention to anything, essentially, and that should be used to promote worthwhile causes and organizations.

  13. Briana DeLuca

    When I decided to study public relations, I was aware of the negative reputation of the profession in the business world. This didn’t steer me to another major because after all, it was just a reputation believed by some. As I learned more and more about the major, I knew I made the right decision. Public relations is about educating the public on truthful information, which is what should be stressed to those who believe that we “spin.”

    As many people fail to realize, public relations is essential in maintaining relationships for the best communication between media platforms and the public. I take it as a challenge to prove to those who are “uneducated” about public relations to enlighten them on the truthful practices that PR practitioners partake in.

    I am looking forward to your class tomorrow! I anticipate a truthful PR campaign as we take on our class client.

  14. Amy Romano

    When I decided to major in PR I wasn’t 100% sure it was exactly what I wanted to do. After being apart of this major for some time now, I not only realized that it was right for me and that I really enjoyed it but also what it had to offer.

    I feel that people who think PR is just about spinning the truth and sugar-coating it really just don’t understand what PR really is. Without PR the relationships between the companies and their publics wouldn’t be as strong and successful. I look forward to this semester and learning as much as I can about PR and all it has to offer.

  15. Julie

    Hi Professor,

    When I decided to major in Public Relations my sophomore year, I really had no idea where it would take me or what to expect–I just knew creative writing and communication were up my alley. Now two years into the field and starting my second internship I’ve learned that Public Relations is not only my future, but the future of the media. Despite the fact that many people may not trust or value PR as a profession, it’s my personal opinion that the number of people who work in and respect PR outnumbers them. Public Relations is an extremely diverse and useful field and is an invaluable part of the media. If the negative Nancys want to stick with “spin” that’s fine, but I want to work in PR to prove them wrong.

  16. Cait Scungio

    Hi Professor-
    I believe that although the practice of Public Relations may be misconstrued, it is a vital part of the media today. With so many different aspects of PR to work and be involved in the opportunities are endless. This is perhaps one of the main reasons I decided to major in Public Relations. We are all presented with amazing opportunities whether they be internships, or hopefully our dream jobs, due to our major in the Public Relations department. We as young PR professionals can give Public Relations back it’s good reputation. Without Public Relations companies will not get the proper publicity and will suffer. This is why Public Relations is so important and influential to not only the media, but every day life.
    I look forward to class.

  17. Jamie Atkinson

    Professor Morosoff,

    I am not the average PR student. In fact, I’m not a PR student at all. I am first, and foremost, an archaeology student who moonlights with a journalism double major. However, when selecting my final courses for my senior year here, it was apparent why I should take at least one PR class.

    Over the summer of 2009, I fulfilled my field school (see also: basic training of archaeology) in Moquegua, Peru. I worked on a variety of sites, but one site I worked at was Cerro Baul, a hard to reach mountain get away for the elite pre-Inkan society, the Wari. Many important things have been discovered and researched at this site, but probably the least of them involved the fact that it also contained a brewery. Months later, back state side, I picked up an issue of Archaeology magazine. I recognized the site immediately, but was surprised to see of all the wonderful findings and discoveries, which small detail garnered the headline: “Mountaintop Brewery gives small settlement big imperial surprise” (or something along those lines).

    I remember a mixed reaction to this. At first, I was happy to see a project I experienced first hand not only getting academic praise but praise from our field’s general media outlet. However, I was disappointed to see what their herlading topic was. A few days later I revisited the article, which did not neglect the importance of the site. I realized that the Chicago Field Museum had played the PR situation exceptionally. No one would want to purchase a magazine with a feature article about the fact that water had to be carried to the top of this mountain every day, the intelligence of settling the tallest mountain so that they could see hundreds of mile sin any direction or any of the other wonderful (though nerdy archaeologist) discoveries. Readers of Archaeology magazine wanted action, excitement, adventure–and beer. And when they were hooked by this line about chicha, they learned about everything else. Resulting in general interest and eventually, better funding for the project.

    Long story, but it explains why I’m here. So why am I interested in PR? Frankly, because I see a personal benefit in knowing how to present my product–my research–to a public in a way that they find it as enticing and fascinating as I do. It’s a means to an end, and in the end my research will do well. While there maybe negatives to the way some people function within PR, the basic skill sets taught in the field can and do benefit every one.

    See you Tuesday!

  18. Lauren Ciuzio

    Professor Morosoff,
    In my marketing 101 class last semester, I learned that it is better for companies to be hoenst with their clientele in order to achieve the best name for the company. If a product has a malfunction, it is better to notify your customers and replace the product, then to lie about it. Why? Because honesty keeps them coming back.

    This concept works with PR as well. PR gets a bad reputation because PR reps arethe ones who break the bad news. However I would not want to work with a person who was dishonest, or for a company that is dishonest. That being said, I hope to learn more about PR this semester, I look foward to it!

  19. Victoria Frary

    Hi Professor-
    I think that although PR has been given a negative image, it is not the fault of most PR professionals. While many companies strive to fix public mistakes and be upfront and honest with their public, there are those companies and PR people who choose to withhold information and tell half truths because they think it will save their client’s reputation.
    One of the most important things I’ve learned in PR is that your reputation is everything. When BP chose not to release all the information about the oil spill in the gulf, their reputation was tarnished because not only did they destroy the wildlife there, they also lied about it to their public.
    I wanted to go into Public Relations because I’m a very outgoing and personable person and I enjoy working with and meeting different people on a daily basis while creating relationships between my company and the media/public.

  20. Glenn Goldberg

    Professor Morosoff,
    First, I’m impressed that you were (are?) a Depp Purple fan, and that you gave Ian Gillan the credit he richly deserves.
    I think the public relations profession has two different perceptions. In what I call the consumer space, which would include government, community relations, and the audience mainstream media covers, PR is generally thought of as a negative, complete with “spin doctors” and other charlatans who basically put lipstick on a pig.
    In the busines-to-business sector, the mood is somewhat different. Trade journalists and analysts rely on the PR practitioners to help explain technologies, trends, and complex matters that the audience is looking for. That’s not to say we all like each other all the time, but the atmosphere is definitely more congenial.

  21. Hilary Franklin

    Hi Professor Morosoff,

    I think that the PR industry needs some serious PR help! Like companies, crisis stands out more then the possitives. While there are PR people and firms that may not always follow the ethical guidelines, the ones that do follow it have the power to positively help people. When I realized I wanted to major in PR, I was focused on being in non profit and had a negative attitude about public relations in general. However, during PR 100 I quickly realized all the things that can be done with PR. My PR understanding grew even more with my internship.

    When people talk about “just PR” and all of the negative PR aspects, I feel the need to remind them that without PR they wouldn’t have the communication between business and public, government and public or non- profits with the world. While reporters feed the public information, the reporters need to get their information from some where. I believe that the public needs to be educated on what PR really is.

    See you in class!

  22. Sarah Travaglini

    Professor Morosoff,

    Public relations does often seem to have a bad reputation for covering up problems or promoting untruths. Most people don’t realize that public relations is also about promoting a good cause, company or business through the use of media. Although public relations is often seen in a negative light, I want to major in it because it is important to be able to promote a company to a global community in a positive manner.

    If public relations were merely spin and false communication, I would never be interested in studying it for four years. I want to study public relations because I’m interested in working with companies to promote what it is they stand for and to create a line of communication between the public and the company. This line of communication is critical to the success of the company. Without PR professionals and the use of media there would be a disconnect between the public and the company.

    I’m looking forward to learning more about this topic!

  23. Alanna Garone

    Hi Professor Morosoff,

    When I decided to be a PR major my sophomore year, I did not know much about what it was. I chose it as my major because I did not really know what I wanted to do for a career, and I figured that a degree in PR would give me lots of options. Two years later, I have a better understanding of what PR is. I also understand that it has a bad reputation for spinning things and being untruthful.

    Although I think it is ironic that PR has not been able to fix it’s own bad reputation, I do not believe that it is immoral or corrupt. It is a way of communicating information. As I have learned in my classes, it is never good to lie or withhold information even if it is unfavorable for the client. In my opinion, PR provides an outlet for being positive and looking at the good in bad situations.


  24. Lisa Jablon

    Public relations is one of those “phrases” that I think people have such a hard time defining because it covers such a wide spectrum of things. But that definitely leads to many of the reasons why PR can have a negative tone or connotation surrounding it. I think that to fully understand what PR is, you really have to immerse yourself in the business. So THAT is in fact why I majored in PR. As a high school student, I had the opportunity of working as the public relations director for our school’s community service organization, and through that I was really able to learn all of the effort and networking that it takes to be able to not only be a successful PR person, but to make sure that my organization was positively recognized.
    I definitely think that public relations is one of the most important aspects of media today, and everyday is something new!

    See you Wednesday,


  25. Kelly Cefai

    Hey Professor Morosoff

    I chose to study Public Relations because of being able to have the ability to work in many different fields and within each being able to reach out to many different publics through a variety of different ways. Granted there are times when a client falls into a negative light, but it is not a PR practitioners job to “spin” the situation but to find a way to turn it into a way of benefiting all those affected. I could see why many associate PR to a career of “spin” because the only time a PR practitioner really shows from behind the curtain is when a negative situation arises. However, the way I see it, is that you will always find people who what to assume whatever they like, and as long as I know that what I am doing is ethical then I could handle the false interpretations, while at the same time try my best to establish a more accurate view.

    I look forward to your class 🙂


  26. Caitlin Brown

    Hi Professor,

    As public relations major, I’ve had a different view of PR and the industry. When deciding what to major in my sophomore year, I did not know what PR really stood for – all I knew was that the courses sounded interesting, and was along the lines of what I thought I may want to do with my life. The whole real world application at the time that I had for PR is the world of entertainment, celebrities and their publicists.

    In my opinion, PR suffers a bad rap for a small percentage of (very) large mistakes. However, the PR industry has not yet managed to find a way to improve its own image.

    What I enjoy most about public relations is the creativity. I recently just began my first internship in PR at a small agency in the city, and I really enjoy the different clients in all different areas and the constant flow of ideas – from planning major events to how best to package a makeup sample. PR is not about portraying an untruth, but it’s a way of putting one’s best foot forward instead.

    See you on Wednesday!

  27. Lauren Suval

    Hi professor,

    While I’m a print journalism major, I was always curious about the field of public relations because I never fully delved into the industry and the actual responsibilities a publicist holds.They do certainly receive a negative reputation sometimes for accentuating the fluff (which may appear deceiving), but like Gennifer mentioned, the ability for publicists and journalists(especially in magazines)to work together is particularly important.

    I’d like to “get my feet wet” in the PR side of things, especially since the profession does relate (and opens doors) to the magazine world,which is what I’m striving to be part of.

    Looking forward to our first class!

  28. Kalli Dionysiou

    Prof. Morosoff,

    I believe the field of public relations is extremely important in the media today. There are so many different media outlets available that public relations is vital in helping companies and clients deliver clear messages to their target audiences. I’ve chosen this field because I think it is important that companies and clients to be represented in a positive and hopefully truthful way. People need to be able to trust the companies and clients they use, depend on, and/or are fans of because the public’s trust is the key to their success.

    I look forward to this semester and discussing this and other PR topics in your class!


  29. Ben Thompson-Star

    Prof. Morosoff

    Personally I do not understand the obsession of Public Relations people with trying to clear their names of associations with “false communication.” It is my opinion that if a Public Relations person is clever enough to tweak a message in a way that best serves their client they are good at their job. I am not in any way endorsing lying; I am simply saying that the essential role of a public relations practitioner is to take the information that is “out there” about their client and have it benefit the client in the best way possible. Furthermore, I believe that if public relations people stopped bucking the negative public perception that you speak of the naysayers would have nothing to fight and would accept P.R. as a legitimate occupation.

    Looking forward to the class!

  30. Whitney Steiner

    Hello Professor Morosoff,

    The public always seems to have mixed feelings about public relations. I think a big part of the negativity towards PR is that when used reactively, people tend to be more skeptical about whether or not to believe what is being presented to them. In my opinion, it is because PR is used to aid negative situations a lot of the time, (such as a public figure in a bad situation or a company such as BP during a crisis) people tend to see it as “spinning the truth.” I do, however, feel that the PR industry needs to do more to educate the public on what exactly it is that PR does.

    I look forward to taking your class this semester!


    Whitney Steiner

  31. Brooke Shaughnessy

    Professor Morosoff,

    Although Public Relations specialists may have a somewhat negative reputation with those who are uncertain of what the job really means, I want to major in public relations to create positive images for clients through use of new age media.

    Public relations is useful for different companies in different forms. Someday I might want to work for a magazine, a large corporation, or a nonprofit organization. I honestly have no idea how I plan to use my major, but I hope I will figure that out using the skills I begin to learn in your PR class.

  32. Maureen Moran

    Hello Professor Morosoff,

    I am excited to be a part of your PR class and I look forward to learning about all the aspects of Public Relations.

    In response to your question, I am certain that if I thought that PR was an industry of just spin and manipulation of the public for the betterment of a company or government I would not have even considered it as a profession. Just as there are people who’s character is built on reputation with attributes such as integrity, character, trustworthiness and honesty; so there is with companies.

    My understanding of working in Public Relations is to help enhance companies reputations on a global scale through television, newspapers, radio and the web. To do this well is the part of Public Relations that I feel will be most challenging and rewarding. Of course, not only would I have to be working for a company that has integrity, honesty, trustworthiness and character, but I would have to believe in what that company sold or stood for.

    How the world views a company and “feels” about a company will determine the success of that company. Through positive and effective Public Relations a company can be a trusted household name or never even pass the lips of the public. Helping to cultivate a company’s reputation and communicating that message effectively is the harvest for the company and the PR team.

  33. Gennifer Delman

    Hi Professor Morosoff:

    As a journalism major and magazine intern, I’ve seen first-hand how important the role of the publicist is in the media business. From books to cosmetics to food, there is a publicist behind every product featured on a magazine’s glossy page. Despite its bad rap, PR is needed as a liaison between a product and a media outlet to provide accurate statistics and information in order to reach the public.

    One would want to work in this field to help disprove its bad reputation and practice balanced promotion of the things the public wants to hear about. Balanced is the keyword here: Publicists must follow an oath [] not to distort the truth in order to portray someone or something in the best light. A publicist has excellent communication and people skills and is able to sustain a mutually beneficial relationship with his or her client. For the right person, it’s a great topic to study full-time as a student.

    Looking forward to diving into this topic in more detail this semester!



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