The Top 5 Things Overheard in PR Agencies Today

hunter PR stuff people say

No, they are “saying” a lot here too.

A couple of years ago, Hunter Public Relations of New York provided us with the YouTube homage “Stuff PR People Say.” Many of the points in the video will make you laugh, giggle, and really look at yourself in the mirror.

Yes, folks. We do say these things: “I made a few tweaks,” “Did you get my email,” “Need by COB,” and of course, “Let’s brainstorm around that.” However, there are other sentiments that may be more client-centric or agency-centric that didn’t make this video.

And that’s what got us thinking about this week’s #5Things: The Top 5 Things Overheard in PR Agencies Today. You know, “just a thought.”

While you may bounce from office-to-office and cube-to-cube, there are the common generalities you will hear spoke by PR practitioners including several of the aforementioned quips and even a feisty game of “Buzzword Bingo” being bandied about.

However, in the dark recesses of the break room, huddled around an already empty water cooler that everyone is waiting for the office manager to change, are the moanings and groanings of disgruntled PR folks (yes, probably him too) that they would like scrubbed from the records of agency lore.

It’s those 5 things we are discussing here today.

wait what1. “They just don’t get PR.” Whether due to a gossip troll discussing the fine work of some PR director he or she doesn’t like or a client that expects to get miraculous headlines in national news because of a 4th place finish in some industry awards soiree, this phrase is being yelled from the rooftops. It’s true that there are people in agencies and client orgs alike who don’t get PR. However, this should also be a clarion call to those same folk to train people, teach them well and let them lead the way. If you are such a Jedi PR knight, then find a young Padawan and help a brother or sister out — that’s the easiest way to save yourself some gray hairs.

behind-the-headlines2. “When will the story run?” This is the probing question asked in every hallway in the PRNewserverse. And why? Because as much as we refuse to admit it, we are car salesmen for stories. Yes, we do so much more than pitch stories — but we still have clients that are only motivated by headlines. And so, when you don’t get ink, you start to stink. PR peeps are in a state of constant drool watching the clock and the inbox for that one reporter to say, “Interested.” However, when those calls don’t come and the emails aren’t flooding your inbox, this is the only question that prevents you from asking the next question (see No. 3).

angry-client3. “They’re still happy, right?” One of the irrefutable facts and incontrovertible truths in this industry is that a happy client makes for a happy agency. If client is unhappy for long, they begin to consider different options. If you are highly competitive, you work hard to pitch and find different ways to get your client in the spotlight. But if you are closer to the “two-toed sloth” variety, this is the only question you ask yourself for motivation. And for that? You get high blood pressure and high dry-cleaning bills because those armpit stains tend to stick around longer than you might like.

I-Could-Have-Done-That4. “I could have done that.” Every once in a while, the boss notices one of your colleagues. The news hits your inbox with a clap of thunder and you read that someone in your office earned a nice story because of a good understanding of his or her client and a productive way of sharing that story with a reporter. That’s when you grumble, roll your eyes ever so slowly, and utter this gem under your breath. Of course, you could have done that. But you didn’t…not, at least, for this client. You see, odds are the note comes from the corner office because the PR director in question is asking No. 3 aloud about the client in question. If the client is huge, the boss is focused. If the client is miffed, the boss is focused. If the client is happy, then the boss looks elsewhere. It’s okay. Welcome to the new world order.

Funny-baby-panda-streching5. “I need to stretch that out a little.” If you work a boutique firm, you may not relate to this one. That said, if you are employed by one of the “Big Five,” you are shouting “Amen!” when no one is looking. In the world of big agency PR, billability is a thing because it lets your partners, senior partners, chief executives, and grand poobahs understand the profitability of their separate departments. And while the stars are looking to align on whatever profit and losses software they have running, you are left to gaze at your below average percentage of billability (sent to you in bold). And then, jackpot — a research project. Thus, strrrrrretchhhhhhhhing it out was born.