Wednesday, 1 June 2016

Why everyone hates PRs

Everyone in PR has a bad reputation. We all get some flack for being lazy, or for hounding journalists who really don't want to take our calls. People assume we're all spin, no substance, and that we're simply journalism grads who didn't have the gravitas to make it.

It's rough out there for a lot of us in public relations, and we're constantly having to defend ourselves and prove our worth to everyone else in the industry.

So why does everyone hate us?

1. We annoy journalists
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Source: Giphy
Look, we don't want to ring you. I can't think of anything worse than cold calling journalists, and having them roll their eyes before I've even mentioned the words "press release". I don't want to do it, but it's in my job description. We know journalists have the last laugh, because the choice to provide coverage belongs to them. Please don't make it worse by hanging up on us. At best, the relationship between a PR and a reporter is a symbiotic agreement in which each party benefits. At worst, they're blanking our calls and our emails. It's a strained relationship sometimes,  but a good PR can build up key media contacts even with the humiliation of repeated rejection.

Undeniably, there's a wall between us, probably as big as the one Donald Trump wants to build. Please, let us say our spiel, and then tell us to go away. Nicely.

2. Bloggers think we're too lazy to find out their name
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Nope, the database was just wrong. Sorry.

3. We take advantage
Source: Giphy
Okay, so we are opportunists. That's our job, we have to turn everything into a potential story. Our job is to find a way to make our clients newsworthy enough to print. It doesn't mean we'll be bullish or tactless about it.

4. It's a catty, female dominated industry
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Source: Giphy
What others call catty, we call competitive. You wouldn't be saying that about a male banker in a suit, would you?

5. We're too fluffy
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Source: Wifflegif
I'll admit, I'm a bit fluffier than the average PR. I can take that. However, there's a reason we get paid to do what we do, and that's because not everyone can do it. PR is not just a press release and a generic email. It's relationships, media know-how, and a bombproof bullshit detector.

6. Our job is just glorified party planning
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Source: Giphy
Nope. I wish PR was as glamourous as Sex and the City. It's not. PR is a lot of babysitting, educating, writing and organising.

7. We're all terrible people
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Source: Giphy
There's no denying that with bigger agencies, there's a lot of bad blood between colleagues. Some are particularly cut throat. This is the same with any industry, not just public relations.

Then comes the argument that we're not professionally helping a journalist with a great story, but instead looking out for our clients' best interest. Of course, we don't have jobs without clients. But we do know what stories suit what journalist, and we do know they are under-resourced with pages to fill. We understand that they have editors to please, like we have account directors. We're just trying to do a good job.

8. We have a high opinion of ourselves
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Source: rebloggy
More often than not, PR execs are intrinsically linked to the notion of bloated ignorance, laziness and inflated self importance. This might be true about human beings in general, public relations has nothing to do with it. Everybody has an ego.

We're very well aware of the stakes at risk, and the cost associated with failure. So no, we're not all that arrogant.

9. As new PRs, we think everything is digital, and only care about online impressions 

So off the mark. Depending on our clients' expectations, we're probably going to care more about a press release making it into one of the bigger daily newspapers. We know that the future is content, and that everything worth its salt is online, but printed ink is still a valuable commodity, and it's rare.

10. We lie
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Source: Giphy
If I lied in my press release, my director would scold me more than my dad after a bad driving lesson. We're often bashed for our relationship with hyperbole and our need to stretch the truth. Look, we're being as factually accurate as possible. We're linking our client to a story somehow, and we're doing pretty well. However, part of our job is riddling in some key messages about our client. It's what we are paid to do. Lying isn't part of the agreement.
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Source: Giphy