Last week, our fearless editor (which, BTW, is no longer this guy…update your Rolodex, peeps) brought to you “Ad Folks Hate Ads but Love Whiskey and Porn. What does PR Love.” Of course, some were good and others delved into the snarky. (Even better.)
The list could be long and entertaining. You know, similar to the famed scroll of papyrus debuted by the great George Carlin and his list of the best dirty words ever. Patrick’s less noted list included items PR professionals love and “love,” such as:
- Obsessing over journalists and their fascinating lives re-writing our clients’ press releases
- Scrolling through our inboxes for any stray press releases: Delete. Delete. Block. Delete…
- Watching other people’s clients being interviewed…so we can make fun of their terrible outfits
- Posing for pictures at events…so we can delete them from our Facebook walls the next day
- White wine or mimosas in the afternoon, because we’re still totally working
So, we have finely crafted a list of the top 10 other things PR peeps love. Enjoy, share and count how many are your faves:
1. How none of our parents understand what the hell we do for a living. “You get people on TV?” We just answer with frustrated agreement because what’s the use anyway? It’s not like our parents will communicate that PR is more than just media relations correctly to their Sunday church group anyway. And be honest, some clients will never understand fully what we do either. That’s why when a competitor is on the news, you will — without fail — get that dreaded phone call, “So, uh, I just saw this bullsh TV interview…and where are we?!” I knew I should have gone into something less obtuse. Like rocket science.
2. How clients have no problem withholding payment because of a lack of trust or results. Really, do you that with clothing and plumbing too? Personally, I have never been able to visit my local diner, refused to pay for the bill and created some drama because I didn’t appreciate that the server did not address me by my first name. Better yet, you called energy provider lately and told them you had “to prioritize accounts payable this month because money has been slow?” Uh, no. Yet, it will happen to us next month. Wonder if rocket scientists deal with this too.
3. How people are under the impression we can control the media into covering a total commercial. So, your new toilet plunger is breaking news and deserves lead story status over the War in the Middle East, a wreck on your major highway or the local sports team winning a game. We know, we get it. It’s a new invention and commodes everywhere will be grateful but in the grand scheme of news, that will probably rank between the play-by-play for the local chess club and afflictions of the spotted owl society. Make your plunger newsworthy and the news won’t consider it just to be sh… well, you get it.
4. How outsiders see PR consistently up there with the most stressful jobs and then follow up with, “All you do is sit in front of a PC, right?” Is it because some of us get to wear jeans to work, so they presume PR is up there with sanitation engineering and waiting tables? Ever met a run-of-the-mill car salesman? Always pressured by quotas? Constantly beaten down by reports of the economy? Can’t get anyone to answer his calls? Yeah, that’s us too. This business is all about “What have you done for me lately.” And if the answer is “create snazzy reports,” then jeans and t-shirts will be a more routine wardrobe…on the unemployment line.
5. How the insider with the client eventually thinks they can do our job, but then after firing us, insists on getting our media lists and templates. Because “transition.” We have all dealt with the client or the conduit asking for our media lists, because after all, “they paid for it.” And candidly, that’s like telling the Colonel to dish out his secret chicken recipe because you buy the food, so he’s in business because of you. That is one of the (many) reasons we are paid. Most importantly, it’s what we do with those contacts instead of calling them incessantly with name-dropping. So have fun transitioning and we’ll talk to you when you come back because “no one answered your call.”
6. How flacks are expected to not have scruples just because the client is paying us. I have been offered, pitched and forced to work several client missions that drove me bat-ess-crazy. One client promoted liquor wholesalers, and I’m a recovering alcoholic. There was this hypnosis network where the “CEO” got baked every weekend and thought his business worked because “people are stupid enough to buy it.” And, I remember a mosquito treatment client. No new discovery. No premiere treatment. Just wanting to sell. Because that’s news too. FACT: If you don’t believe in it, you can’t pitch it. And, if there’s no news in it, you won’t enjoy it.
7. How former journalists always get the big-paying gigs in PR and then discover they can’t do this job. There is so much more to PR than pitching and telling a story. But hey, it’s the circle of life. If a hack gets “re-organized,” they figure “Meh. Why not? I’ll get a job in PR.” So, they change the badge in the trusty fedora and off they go. Sure, they can get all their clients on that one network because they worked there, but how’s that report coming along? What about that Web copy? Oh, sorry, don’t understand SEO? That story you got on TV, how come you haven’t read it in print? Why big agencies fall for that resume fodder every time is beyond me. I know some journos who have flourished in PR, However, like some PR types who think they can do their job, good luck with that.
8. How suck-out-loud PR “pros” continue making this profession look so bad. How many lists have you read about what journos hate that “we” do? Too many to remember? And what’s this “we” crap? Folk I know don’t do any of that stuff; yet, whenever I take a friend in the media to lunch, I always hear some story about a ridiculous flack who is convinced they are the only crayon in the box. The average journalist sees 1,000 pieces of communication each day — spam, the boss asking about deadline, pitches, follow-ups, more pitches, appearance requests, and then there’s social media. And you are the important one? Child, please.
9. How outsiders think PR people stretch the truth worst than politicians. I suppose this “spin doctor” stigma came from dolts in this industry who aren’t glass-half-full or half-empty, they just drink (hiccup). From that, come the lies of the damned and the stereotypes we all have to fight. Quick NOTE: We have to be honest because journalists can sniff out a phony easily. If you think that you are too slick for the media, may I suggest Capitol Hill because I know a reporter in Des Moines, Iowa that could detect the pile you are shoveling.
10. How (bad) PR interviews for new staff members are always discovered with interviewees saying, “I’m a people person.” Oh. Dear. God. If there is one tell-tale sign of someone who just doesn’t get PR, it’s the newbies who think that answer is the kill switch. “I got them. I’m a people person. I’m so smart.” Uh, yeah, about that? Your local Burger King is hiring. Now add to that dreaded phrase, a few “ums,” “uhs,” and “likes” and I may walk out of the interview and go swallow some staples. Interviews are about engaging people, creating a relationship and learning how to fit in a culture. Save the “people person” line for spraying cologne on innocent bystanders in the mall, because that’s always a good thing to do.