Stop Being Idiots -or- NATO and Perspective

© by Newtown grafitti

I made a mistake yesterday.  I opened my full Twitter stream – a few thousand folks (probably 90% or more PR or Marketing professionals) talking all at once.

It seems there is a very vocal contingent, of or our own professionals, who know nearly nothing about civics, world politics or anything beyond the next Twilight book or score of the current game. Further, we sadly know what the common perception of PR/Marketing professionals is (thank you reality TV). So I have a simple request to stop the further degradation of our industry’s image: 

When it comes to a topic you know nothing about – international politics, law, civil rights, NATO summits – please, for all that’s holy – stop talking. Believe it or not, there are plenty of people who do actually know more than you. Most of them have degrees in topics beyond making a press list or how to write the perfect pitch, and have read the Constitution more recently than 7th grade.

(This does not include the permits issue, or police brutality issue – those are real issues.)

Our country’s founders fought to create all of this around us – the land of the free and home of the brave – Land of the Free.

For over 200 years we’ve had young men and women putting their lives on the line to protect our Constitution and extend those so-very basic rights to others, in other countries and, for seemingly no good reason, you want the protestors to go home?

In the U.S.

You want to send people “away” who are exercising their Rights of Expression and Assembly.

Seriously?

Consider that next time you think to yourself (or worse yet, say publicly) “Oh, that’s a First Amendment violation” when a brand limits what you can say on their Facebook wall.

Psst – the First Amendment only applies to government action – a private company can do whatever it likes – and every time you bring up the First Amendment in that context a tiny bit of the Constitution dies. And a kitten has a nightmare. And you prove that you know next to nothing about the rights you so freely have that others on this planet would (and have) died for.

Before you try to defend yourself – do you even know what NATO (the acronym) stands for? I’m not saying you necessarily do, though it would be nice, but if you’re going to complain about it, you should probably know what it is.

Or what the organization’s purpose is?

The current summit is expected to draw in some 2,000 journalists.

2,000 journalists covering one event.  It’s an important event – and important events draw crowds (and protests) and yet you still want these people to just go home?

Shut up, go re-read Twilight or watch something on ESPN45 – it’ll surely enhance your mind (please note my sarcasm).  But don’t stick your nose in international affairs – there are big boys and girls in there, doing big boy and girl things.  Involve yourself if you want, but until you can speak at least somewhat cognizantly on the actual topics at hand stay out of it.

Now, why is this on a PR blog? Because stupid – your clients and bosses see your tweets.  All you’re doing is proving your lack of depth, understanding of your role in the world and furthering the ruination of our combined reputation.  It’s bad enough you work in our biz, keep your mouth shut if you can’t contribute intelligently and let the rest of us try to pull out of the muck we’ve built.

Nota Bene: I didn’t name names or quote tweets intentionally. They’re too easy to find and I’d likely end up on a multi-agency sponsored hit list of some kind. To see evidence of what I’m referring to, hop over to Twitter search and poke around – you’ll see it.   Try searching for: protestors go home.

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  • http://twitter.com/coolsosa Sam Sosa-Rodriguez

    I hope you feel better, because truly, that is all that a post like this might accomplish.

    • http://prbreakfastclub.com Nathan Burgess (aka/fka PRCog)

      Sam-

      I did feel better until seeing your comment. Given that you’re a member of the Future Leaders in Public Relations I’m a bit stunned you’d think graduates over the last few years (and perhaps even longer-term) are anywhere near prepared on a broader scale.

      And you are wrong – there’s plenty this post can accomplish:

      a) It’s a great ‘I told you so’ when someone loses an account because they didn’t understand the greater ramifications of the client’s situation in world economics/politics.

      b) It might make someone DVR the evening news rather than (or in addition to) reality TV or read the front page of the NYT, SFC, Tribune or WSJ rather than People or Us Weekly.

      Of course, no one described above would consider themselves to actually be in the described group and so would not endeavor to think more broadly than a cat meme of ‘they’re boverin’ me so dey should go.’

  • Mad Poet

    I agree with what you say. However, if you want to be taken seriously, it might be good for you to check your grammar and sentence structure. If you’re really a professional, these elements of communication matter too — even in a well-intentioned rant.

    • http://prbreakfastclub.com Nathan Burgess (aka/fka PRCog)

      Hi Mad -

      Thanks for reading.  I do appreciate your comment and on most posts am a bit more strict, but in this case I was willing to bend the rules a bit to get the message across and keep a certain cadence.  Cheers & thanks for reading!

  • http://twitter.com/JasMollica Jason Mollica

    I agree with Nathan’s post here. This isn’t the first, nor will it be the last, protest. If folks are annoyed, take a look back in history at how bad it got in Chicago during the 1968 Democratic Convention. The times were much more volatile then (RFK and MLK’s assassinations, etc.). And the protests much, much worse.
    This gathering of protestors can be an annoyance, but we are free to express our distaste because of what our forefathers did.
    Do I believe clashing with police is the answer? No way. But whining about protestors in your city isn’t going to get them to go. As a matter of fact, they probably would turn a deaf ear to your pleas anyways. 
    If you want to complain, do it off of Facebook, Twitter, etc. 

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    It might make someone DVR the evening news rather than (or in addition
    to) reality TV or read the front page of the NYT, SFC, Tribune or WSJ
    rather than People or Us Weekly.