The Top 5 Traits of Bad PR People


For years, PR professionals and organizations have been sharing with the rest of us what makes a good PR practitioner. Don’t you think if all those lists were doing any good, the entire industry wouldn’t have the appearance of skidmarks in a newsroom?

We don’t have the most sterling of reputations, people. Those stereotypes are there for a reason. So, it got me thinking maybe we’re doing this wrong. And then I had it. Back to our listicles of “5 Things.” here are the top 5 traits of bad PR people.

This should do the trick…

jargon comic1. Excessive Use of Jargon. It’s the guy with a really large cigarette boat. The dude who is single but buys a house with 10 rooms. It’s compensation. Someone is afraid you will see him or her with pants around the ankles, and then point … and laugh. Buzzword Bingo is the great force field to these flacks. They think with enough “moving needles” and “synergistic dialogue,” that you won’t be able to detect all that bullsh being shoveled in your direction. Sure, they may good at what they do but do you want them doing it? That is the real merit of a client / agency relationship — a desire to have you doing the work.

notplaywell2. Doesn’t Play Well with Others. While this is such a relationship business, there is always that one old shrew who stays in his or her office, grumbles things to do, and is “always busy” so the door has to be shut (or the headphones on). No one wants to be on an account with this person; yet, the boss never notices and assumes it’s a “personal issue.” Be nice but it’s okay to be distant. They may have the job you want and the salary you already earn, but that is one sad individual and all the Freudian chatter in the world couldn’t get this dolt happy with mommy and daddy, so don’t worry. Be happy.

WHT3. Knows No One in the Media.  Obviously, if this is an intern or a green PR pro, let it slide. But if you have someone with more than five years in the business and hasn’t “had the time” to take [insert your fave journo here] to lunch, be afraid. To them, PR isn’t about relationships. It’s about everything else. And that “else” doesn’t do the job most of the time. Your clients need more. Your agency deserves more. And your resume won’t get more unless you have at least one reporter on a personal — I’ll DM you — basis. So, get out there and make a date to Mickey D’s or some such.

peopleskills4. Got Into This Gig Because “People Person.” Yeah. Yeah. We know. You have great people skills, damnit. Yet, no one wants to have lunch with you. Admittedly (and ashamedly), this was me. I thought I was cool with everyone until lunch time and I never had a date with anyone in my office. Wassup with that?! Then I realized it was me. Back in the day, I was slightly douchey. Oh no, I can admit it, but I got over it. Some people don’t and never realize their potential in this business because of their douchenozzle ways. Don’t be that “people person,” and just stick to being a professional.

duct tape5. Wouldn’t be Trusted as a Spokesperson. If there were six on this list, it would be “has to be in the spotlight.” Many in this industry think they are the one the media wants to hear. Not so much. So, can you imagine if your client would dread if that were the case? You are the one training, preparing, and pitching them to speak, and yet … you suck at it? No thanks. It could be your coarse attitude. It might be no one can believe a word you say. Or, it could be that bad stuttering problem. Whatever the cause, if no one would want you to speak on their behalf, maybe you should just shut up.