“Damn, I Wish I’d Said That!” – 50 of Our Favorite PR Quotes

At The Content Factory, we're pretty good at figuring out the right way to say things. In fact, it's kinda what we do. But occasionally someone else phrases something so eloquently, it just can't be topped. That's why we've taken the time to put together a list of our favorite “Damn, I wish I'd said that!” PR quotes.

Quotes On the Essence of PR

What exactly does PR entail? A simple definition might be this: it's the management of information flow between a business or organization and the public, conducted in a way that benefits both parties. Understanding the essence of this dialogue is particularly important in the Internet age, where news breaks at lightning speed and a brand's reputation can be made or destroyed by a single social media post. But of course everyone has their own take on the essence of PR. Here are a few of our favorite quotes on that:

  • "The history of PR is… a history of a battle for what is reality and how people will see and understand reality." – Stuart Ewen
  • “It’s PR that needs to be creative. It’s PR that needs to be new and different. It’s PR that needs to be original. The best way to establish a brand is to create a new category, and creating a new category requires creative thinking of the highest order.” –  Al & Laura Ries
  • "PR is performance recognition" – Douglas Smith
  • “Everything you do or say is public relations.” – Unknown
  • "Since we cannot change reality, let us change the eyes which see reality." – Nikos Kazantzakis
  • “If a young man tells his date how handsome, smart and successful he is – that’s advertising. If the young man tells his date she’s intelligent, looks lovely, and is a great conversationalist, he’s saying the right things to the right person and that’s marketing. If someone else tells the young woman how handsome, smart and successful her date is – that’s PR.” – S. H. Simmons

  • “To establish oneself in the world, one does all one can to seem established there already.” – François de La Rochefoucauld

 

 

"The counsel on public relations is not an advertising man but he advocates for advertising where that is indicated. Very often he is called in by an advertising agency to supplement its work on behalf of a client. His work and that of the advertising agency do not conflict with or duplicate each other." – Edward Bernays

 

On the Art of PR

PR people are often called “spin doctors,” which to us conjures up images of weird zombie voodoo witch doctors. While we like to think of ourselves as good witches rather than bad witches, there's certainly an element of magic to what we do. What's our method? We can't reveal all of our secrets, but read on for a little taste.

  • "PR is a mix of journalism, psychology, and lawyering – it’s an ever-changing and always interesting landscape." – Ronn Torossian
  • “Public-relations specialists make flower arrangements of the facts, placing them so the wilted and less attractive petals are hidden by sturdy blooms.” – Alan Harrington

"An image is not simply a trademark, a design, a slogan or an easily remembered picture. It is a studiously crafted personality profile of an individual, institution, corporation, product or service." – Daniel Boorstin

  • "The art of publicity is a black art; but it has come to stay, and every year adds to its potency." – Thomas Paine
  • Spin doctors are: “professional political strategists, able on behalf of their clients to manipulate the media – planting a story here, a rumour there, a tip-off somewhere else  – so that any piece of news is tailored to show them in the best possible light.” –  Michael Shea

Quotes On Ethics and PR

Ironically – considering how much of our work involves maintaining and improving reputations – PR doesn't always have the best rep when it comes to ethics. Some people, because of bad things that they've done in the past, have even been called propagandists. But there's a big ethical difference between real PR and simple propaganda, and here it is: PR is always solidly rooted in fact. PR is part of the good fight, as the wise people quoted below have recognized.

  • "PR means telling the truth and working ethically – even when all the media want is headlines and all the public wants is scapegoats. Public relations fails when there is no integrity." – Viv Segal of Sefin Marketing
  • “Publicity is the very soul of justice. It is the keenest spur to exertion, and the surest of all guards against improbity.” – Jeremy Bentham
  • “We believe PR should be practiced to serve the public interest, to develop mutual understanding between organizations and their publics.” – James E. Grunig
  • “Without publicity there can be no public support, and without public support every nation must decay.” – Benjamin Disraeli

“Publicity, publicity, publicity is the greatest moral factor and force in our public life.” – Joseph Pulitzer

  • "Advertising ministers to the spiritual side of trade. It is great power that has been entrusted to your keeping which charges you with the high responsibility of inspiring and ennobling the commercial world. It is all part of the greater work of the regeneration and redemption of mankind." – Calvin Coolidge
  • “Publicity is a great purifier because it sets in action the forces of public opinion, and in this country public opinion controls the courses of the nation." – Charles Evans Hughes

Quotes On PR and Image

Joan Jett didn't give a damn about her reputation, but unless you're a teenage rock star, you should probably give a damn about yours.

  • “It takes 20 years to build a reputation and five minutes to ruin it. If you think about that, you'll do things differently.” – Warren Buffet
  • "It is generally much more shameful to lose a good reputation than never to have acquired it.” – Pliny the Elder
  • "What kills a skunk is the publicity it gives itself." – Abraham Lincoln
  • "Reputation matters because your behind is always behind you." – Happy Masina

“There is only one thing in the world worse than being talked about, and that is not being talked about." – Oscar Wilde

 

 

  • "There is no such thing as bad publicity except your own obituary." – Brendan Behanv

  • “If you don't tell your story, someone else will.” – Unknown

  • "Regardless of how you feel inside, always try to look like a winner. Even if you are behind, a sustained look of control and confidence can give you a mental edge that results in victory." – Arthur Ashe​​​​​​

  • ​“Many a small thing has been made large by the right kind of advertising.” – Mark Twain​

Quotes On the Importance of PR

People as disparate as Malcolm X and John D. Rockefeller both spoke to the power and importance of public image. Since PR is something that people who are so fundamentally different can agree on, you know there must be something fundamentally important about it. If you 're still not convinced that public relations is absolutely critical to the success of your business, you'll change your mind after reading this selection of quotes.

  • “PR is extremely important, and being able to use it in the right way means everything. You have to market your success." – Lee Haney, bodybuilder and former Mr. Olympia

  • “In a downturn, aggressive PR and communications strategy is key.” – Doug Leone, VC, Sequoia Capital – Silicon Alley Insider

  • "If I was down to the last dollar of my marketing budget I'd spend it on PR!" – Bill Gates
  • “Public relations are a a key component of any operation in this day of instant communications and rightly inquisitive citizens.” – Alvin Adams

  • “Publicity is absolutely critical. A good PR story is infinitely more effective than a front page ad.” – Richard Branson

  • “Historically, PR, Marketing and Advertising budgets are the first to be cut; however, that could be one of the first mistakes a business makes in an economic crisis.” – CBSMarketwatch

  • “The media’s the most powerful entity on earth. They have the power to make the innocent guilty and to make the guilty innocent, and that’s power.” – Malcolm X

“Next to doing the right thing, the most important thing is to let people know you are doing the right thing.” –

John D. Rockefeller

  • “Publicity is the life of this culture – in so far as without publicity capitalism could not survive – and at the same time publicity is its dream." – John Berger

  • “I suspect in most companies, the public relations person is down at No. 20 in the pecking order. But here, he is fighting incredibly important battles. If a negative story starts running away with itself in the press and is not dealt with fast, it can badly damage the brand, and so we put enormous weight on our PR people.”  – Richard Branson

  • "Words are, of course, the most powerful drug used by mankind.” – Rudyard Kipling

  • "Publicity is a great purifier because it sets in action the forces of public opinion, and in this country public opinion controls the courses of the nation.” – Charles Evans Hughes

  • “Without publicity there is no prosperity.” – Yakov Zel'dovich
  • “Nobody counts the number of ads you run; they just remember the impression you make.” – Bill Bernbach, advertising pioneer and founder of DDB
  • "Today, journalism is such a persuasive factor in opinion building that no person, group or business can claim immunity or afford to under-estimate the ability of the fourth estate to affect their fortunes – either for better or for worse." – Gigi van der Rie
  • "Some are born great, some achieve greatness, and some hire public relations officers.” – Daniel J. Boorstin

And there you have 'em. Our 50 favorite “Damn, I wish I'd said that” quotes about PR. Got a favorite that we didn't feature? Let us know in the comment section.

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