5 Scary Things Still Lurking in PR Agencies

PR Halloween

Something wicked this way comes…or, more accurately, it has never left.

The PR agency has evolved in many ways — integration of digital, trying to understand social, open work spaces, and anything else that makes them resemble an advertising agency.

Although the thousands of public relations firms across this great land of ours have been changing, there are still some surreptitious, blood-curling, creepy things rearing its ugly head in cube farms everywhere. Be they boutique-size or big-time, all agencies still offer horrific aspects of an industry that wants to kill us all in a gruesome B-list scary movie fashion.

So, here’s a special Halloween edition of #5Things: 5 Scary Things Still Lurking in PR Agencies.

AVE1. AVE. If this thing, this tool, this ancient practice last seen on the walls of the pyramids, this advertising-value equivalency is still around in your agency, run! Run for fear of this goop getting on you and spreading its malcontent of fake measurement on your computer and your clients. These vanity metrics used to work because many smaller clients needed reassurance of that ROI. We get it, but there are so many other ways to do that — digitally, socially, visually. PR has evolved. Metrics have evolved as well. Your agency made need to do so as well.

Lindsey graham press conference2. Press Conferences. Think back: When was the last time you saw mic flags, an accomplished dais, a backdrop of people who don’t deserve to be there, all presented for an ‘announcement’? Oh yeah, Congress. That’s it! And we already know how you feel about that whole mess. There’s no need for those types of circus acts thanks to social media. Our Mediabistro bunk mate at AllTwitter reported proof: 83 percent of Fortune 500 companies are on Twitter. So, print out all those strategy documents involving press conferences and light them on fire. That audience you are hoping to tantalize at the presser are floating out on the Cloud — and are only one tweet, one video, one post away.

mighty_press_release3. Media Releases. This is a tough one, and one that is dying a long death. Clients expect them. Agencies write them. Websites are filled with them. Yet, and here’s the kick in the gut, no one reads them. If PR types are supposed to be 80 to 100 percent billable, why spend the client’s money on crap that doesn’t matter? Sure, this may take some time to convince the client otherwise, but when you are able to spend time with pitches that matter and social media that works, press releases may actually not matter (as much).

tekken press kit4. Press Kits. You know those folders you buy at the local office store? The ones you load with headshots, faded inkjet color copies of No. 3 on this list, and data grids that will numb the mind? Yeah, if you’re a Millennial, go ask one of the old codgers in the agency. That’s a press kit. No wonder you haven’t seen those. They haven’t been around since Ronald Reagan’s wife was telling PR directors to “Just Say No” to wasting thousands of dollars on press kits. What’s terrifying is that some crusty PR types are still saying yes to these things. Not CD-Roms. Not flash drives. Not even papers bound in a clip. Press kits — a sight worse than a Rosie O’Donnell sex tape. AHHHHHHH!

Buzzword_Bingo15. Buzzwords. They suckety-suck-suck! The only people that use them are “Yes men,” old farts in PR agencies, people who kiss all the @$$ of said “yes men,” and plain idiots trapped in corporate America equipped with sticks lodged in some orifice. In the PRNewserverse, we make no apologies for trying to rid the world of these dastardly amalgamations of lunacy. We offer lists (seen here, here, and here. Oh, here too). Bats swoon in the belfry. Ceramic dolls begin staring at you. Ouija boards float above tables. And uppity white guys in your firm start calling each other “brah.” We’re talking scary crap here! Use them at your peril. Even clients are noticing…or, at least, they should.