“I’m still mad as hell, but I’ve moved on.”
While we had a little fun with the New York Observer’s recent Big Apple PR expose yesterday, we almost skipped the best part: an anonymous survey in which 130 journalists revealed how they REALLY feel about PR.
We found the results slightly encouraging…especially when compared to a similar survey conducted more than 20 years ago.
First, the least surprising findings from the NYO survey, which come from the “what’s your general impression of PR” question:
- 53 percent said “can’t live with ’em, can’t live without ’em,” and we encourage readers to focus on the second part of that answer
- 37 percent said that PR “provides a valuable service!!”
- Only 9 percent of participants said that the average PR pro is “overpaid, lazy and useless” (such choice adjectives!)
45 percent even said that they look forward to hearing from certain reps. Now compare those numbers to the results of a 1991 (!) survey of 5,500 media people conducted by Jericho Promotions:
- When asked to choose the most appropriate words to describe PR, journalists went with “pests, annoying, tunnel vision, desperate, enthusiastic, biased, persistent, human, diligent and flacks.“
Ah yes, the good old days. Jericho also asked journos to choose an animal that best represented PR…
- “71 percent said weasel, 11 percent fox, 2 percent dog and 1 percent worm. Other responses included woodpecker, fly, junkyard dog, amoeba, ox and eager beaver.”
“Junkyard dog?” Was someone a wrestling fan?! Now, the weasel association implies dishonesty, but check out the NYO responses to the question “do you trust PR people?”:
- 58 percent say “they embellish sometimes, but I trust them“
- 26 percent say “they’re good people, and we have great working relationships“
- Only 16 percent called all PRs liars, and that’s a lot lower than the 71 percent who chose the weasel in 1991
One thing holds true throughout both surveys: as irritated as these journalists may be at times, nearly all of them acknowledge that PR plays an important — nay, necessary — role in the work they do.
- In 1991, 81 percent of hacks admitted it: we need PR people
- 38 percent even volunteered to say that they got more than half of their stories from PR pros
OK, but what about the PR/media relationship on a personal level? When asked whether they’d rather spend time with X or a PR professional, those cranky 1991 olds ranked publicists above dentists and tax collectors/IRS agents but below “ex-flames, in-laws and former New York Mayor Ed Koch.” It’s a dated joke, but given the fact that our current mayor is hardly a master of media relations, you can just insert “Bill de Blasio” there.
Here’s the (literally) sexiest finding from the Observer:
- 11 percent of journalists say that they have had some form of romantic relationship with their PR contacts. “Dating/hooking up with/casually banging people in PR is pretty common, especially given the circumstances where we meet.” O RLY?
For the record, we can almost guarantee that the number for journalists dating other journalists would approach 90 percent…and that “it didn’t end well” would apply in a solid majority of those cases.
On a more serious note, here’s the only thing you really need to take away from the NYO piece: when asked to name the most irritating thing PR pros do, a whopping 81 percent of writers said:
“They pester me with pitches that have nothing to do with what I cover.”
We’ll call that answer 99.9 percent accurate just to give ourselves a little wiggle room. Here’s another one, just for fun: it’s our impression of what happens when a PR pro asks, for the third time, whether we’ll cover a client that we already covered two days ago…
We kid! We kid!