Enter the Leper Messiah

I am pissed off. The PR industry has recently received one black eye after the other – and you know what? It’s our own damn fault.

Yes, I said it. The recent bad press for the PR industry (and individual practitioners) in TechCrunch, Forrester and the New York Times came from the work of horrible PR people. These ranged from bad pitches to scamming a small business.

That pisses me off even more than anything. Instead of being a source of news and information from the media – our industry is being looked at as nothing more than a bunch of snake oil salesmen.

While every industry has its share of bad apples, it seems like we’ve had more than our fair share. Sure bad news and our symbiotic relationship with reporters makes our follies easy fare to sell papers, but it’s still no excuse to promote shoddy workmanship.

So how do we fix this?

Well, some suggestions I have heard include standardizing the industry with some kind of licensing certification, like lawyers or accountants. I will leave those kinds of fixes to smarter folks. I think we all need to do some self policing -if you see someone acting shady or blatantly spamming, give them a kick in the ass or point them to better ways to do their jobs.

If we don’t, well, we might just use this Metallica song as our greeting cards…

What are your thoughts on fixing the space? We’d love to hear below.

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  • Sure – but how do you spot behaviour like that until it’s already behavioured?

  • I think we need to take a hard look at what’s being taught in the universities and colleges. There are people graduating with “mass communication” degrees who don’t even know they do PR in actuality. Why is that? Are curricula in advanced learning classrooms ignoring public relations as a profession and informing the future of our field that anyone can do PR (yet training is suspect)?

    I’ve been exploring “What is PR?” on my blog over the last three weeks. Yesterday’s post clearly showed where the confusion is in the industry. No one can agree how to define what it is we do. If the practitioners doing the work don’t know, then how the heck can we educate clients, young practitioners, students, and peers?

    Social media (another post I wrote about) is a culprit in this crisis of identity; the soap box is available 24/7 for anyone wanting to rant at an entire profession regardless of accuracy, culpability. The balance is skewed; how do we get back to center to begin to move the needle in a more positive direction?

    It takes a village; no one can go it alone. Not sure I provided what you’re seeking; am in full agreement with your assessment. And, finally, having been in this field since before the fax machine, I’ve seen this all before, just not to this level of erosion (aided and abetted by social media).

  • How about we just use some common sense? PR isn’t rocket science. We’re paid to provide media with relevant information. Thus, the home & garden reporter at the St. Louis Post Dispatch could care less about your technology start-up. (Yes – not everybody cares.) Yet, we try to force feed it anyway, usually through an ill-advised mail merge.

    Let’s take the time to actually understand what our reporters write about. Pick up the phone and ask them. Meet them for coffee when they have time. Set up a Google Alert for when new coverage runs.

    So simple, yet, so effective.

    And if you can’t follow these directions? Well, they have every right to tar and feather you in public.