Understanding 5 Types of PR People (and How to Work With Them)

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A couple of weeks ago, our #5Things list concerned the 5 types of reporters and how to work with them.

While we appreciate the reads, shares, and comments, one question came through loud and clear: “What’s your take on the types of PR people?”

In the interest of facilitating a better representation of what PR peeps should — and should not — be, we have devised five general types of public relations professionals. In order to be fair, we also suggested some “best practices” for learning how to work with them.

We have all met these folks. They are us.

doh1. The Misplaced. Ever worked with someone who just doesn’t get it? Whether “it” be pitching, follow-up, account management, writing coherent sentences — it just isn’t there in these cases. The most relevant questions regarding The Misplaced: how did they get into this industry? And why do they insist on making my job more difficult?!

  • Attitude: Friendly, to a fault. Makes a good personality seem like a cover-up for bad work
  • Turn-ons: Mentorship and learning by example. Why? It’s like they’re back in class. 
  • Turn-offs: The question, “Are you a self-starter?” That would be “No.”
  • The tell sign: The pairing of a pitch list and a phone inspires profuse jitters and sweat.
  • Teamwork: They want to help, and try hard to do so, but usually get caught up in keeping up. 

brown nose2. The Brown-noser. Go to lunch and you know where this one will sit. You also know who will be first to talk at every staff meeting and who will be the first to offer up the idea that you mentioned two hours ago in the corner office. For some reason, those who conform to this archetype tend to last they last much longer than they should in PR. Don’t fret, though: the boss’s behind gets kissed because this type can’t get it done with the media.

  • Attitude: Overly kind…when the boss is around. Aloof — door closed — when he or she is not. 
  • Turn-ons: The staff meeting where the boss is doling out compliments. 
  • Turn-offs: The staff meeting where the boss is doling out compliments…for everyone but the brown-noser. 
  • The tell sign: When a team brainstorm becomes a pep-rally, and this one is the head cheerleader.
  • Teamwork: This one wants all the credit, so don’t count on “teamwork is dreamwork.”

word-nerd3. The Word Nerd. You can always identify a word nerd in his/her natural habitat by the red Sharpie on standby (or the virtual Sharpie). While others are reading theories by Bernays and Ivy Lee and scouring the news via Twitter, this grammarian stays loyal to a worn-out version of the AP Stylebook. Word Nerds are great people to proof your work in a pinch — but don’t be surprised if they come up with urgently needed edits that you forgot three months ago.

  • Attitude: Sometimes reserved but usually happy to help. Lightens up when AP comes out with new edits. 
  • Turn-ons: A press release with more red spots than a hemophiliac.
  • Turn-offs: Any work done by that one really great writer on the team. No serious proofreading needed, frowny face.
  • The tell sign: Drool…namely when an account executive asks for some additional eyes on their client document. 
  • Teamwork: Always happy to help. (It’s cathartic. Let them have it.)

mine4. The Contact Hoarder. Count on your office friendship with this one being challenged the second you ask for an introduction to a certain local anchor, producer, or editor. The contact hoarder will put the kibosh on that, real quick like. This one lives in a world of paranoia driven by the belief that if you both pitch the same contact, said media person will start befriending you and forget the one that brought you to the party. Sure, media lists are open to everyone, but contacts are like fire hydrants in this one’s case.

  • Attitude: This is your office buddy…except when it comes time to offer a helping hand with someone they know. 
  • Turn-ons: When someone answers a pitch, it’s a kind of euphoria. 
  • Turn-offs: When someone else in the office gets an answer to a pitch from a contact this one covets. Daggers! 
  • The tell sign: You ask for an eIntroduction for a media type and this one stumbles with “I know this person. Maybe I should pitch for you?” 
  • Teamwork: Don’t count on it. 

rivera5. The Closer. It’s easy to be envious of this one because they rock at pitching. From schmaltzy emails or skillfully crafted narratives, this one gets it done. The practice seems like a mathematical equation you can’t decipher, because when you pitch the same contacts you get a goose egg while this one makes it seem like calling a BFF. Fortunately, the closer is quietly confident (most of the time), so you can count on a quick tutorial when you need one.

  • Attitude: Happy to help but doesn’t mind showing off the skills when the team needs a hit. 
  • Turn-ons: Getting that one hard nut to crack on a phone. 
  • Turn-offs: When the superpowers are ineffective. It’s like sucking a kryptonite lollipop. 
  • The tell sign: Someone in the team meeting cries out, “Man, we need a hit” and this one breaks out in hives. 
  • Teamwork: Count on it.

What do we think? Which of the five do you know best?