(Some) PR People Are Annoying (written by a PR person)
OK, let me start by saying I am a PR person. And there are certainly plenty of us out there who know what we’re doing and are making great strides for our clients and companies. But good god, there are still an awful lot of us who give the rest of us a bad rap, who don’t understand PR but who think they do.
I wrote this post after doing a media interview on the site of a local shopping center. The “PR person” for the center sauntered up during the middle of the interview to inform the journalist that she was “supposed” to check in with them and that no footage of the shopping center was to be used. Hello? You don’t want publicity about your shopping center? Isn’t that your job?
Let me say that I do understand that media isn’t always nice, so we do have to be cautious about what they do, but to say that under no circumstances was video of the shopping center to be used seems ridiculous to me. She could have stood there and listened to the interview to know it was completely innocuous. I come from the camp of thinking of media as friends rather than always assuming the worst. I think an attitude of constant mistrust will not get you far when working with media.
Here’s what else I don’t like about (some) PR people:
1) Not getting back to journalists in a timely fashion.
2) Charging an arm and a leg and not getting anything besides a local TV talk show appearance for a client.
3) Being overly controlling about every word said about your company or client. For example, insisting you be a part of every interview your client has with the media. Here’s a tip: Journalists don’t like that and most will not want to work with you again if they can avoid it.
4) PR Speak – Please, no subjective language (unique, very, excellent, truly) in a press release. It’s up to the reader (the journalist) to make a judgement about what we’re saying based on the facts we present.
5) A lack of news judgement. Don’t pitch a journalist on something that is not newsworthy! They will forever not pay attention to you, whereas if you bring them something newsworthy every time, when you call, they will answer and better yet — listen. Isn’t that our goal?
I’ve certainly made some of these mistakes in my career, but I learned from them and changed my behavior. I wrote this post in the hopes that more of us will do the same. What bugs you about PR people? How can we improve to better represent our industry? What makes for a good PR person?