Why We Need to Set the Bar Higher When Giving Advice

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Waffle © by ilovememphis

Earlier this week, Ragan.com posted a blog titled, “8 Foods PR Pros Should Avoid.” When I first saw it tweeted, I thought that it may have a few foods that aren’t good as we are working. Maybe I shouldn’t have that chicken finger sub for lunch; should I bypass the Starbucks breakfast sandwich. Heck, maybe I should be skipping Starbucks altogether (ok, that’s not happening).

As I clicked the link and actually read the blog, it was neither about foods we shouldn’t eat nor healthier options. The blog discussed how on the next visit to the store,  we “consider which items not to buy. These products can rattle PR pros by planting negative subliminal messages in their psyches.”

Here are the first three:

1. Swiss cheese represents holes in our pitches.

2. Waffles remind us of a weak position on an angle and story credibility.

3. Fish triggers a sense of a foul smell. Translation: something stinks.

Upon finishing reading the post, I was flabbergasted. First, why would Ragan.com, a respected industry site, re-post this blog? Second, how did it pass the “smell” test (sorry for the pun)?

The blog was panned by the select few who anonymously commented. I’m not going to be anonymous. This blog is embarrassing and frankly, something I don’t expect from a seasoned pro. Imelda Dulcich, a fine PR pro near Seattle, Wash. told me on Twitter:

“It read like a required high school essay – trying to get the required number of words w/ no depth, matter.”

“No depth or matter” should never be words that are uttered when discussing advice from a PR/social media/marketing pro. We are expected to be knowledgeable with our guidance. We need to be better. We need to be smarter and think about what we say, write, and post everywhere.

Clients are looking to us and pay us a lot of money to give sound, smart advice. When I see blogs like this, I cringe because it is an example of taking the easy way out. It’s not something I’d want a potential or current client to read.

Set the bar high. It’s more than possible.

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  • http://www.m2sys.com/ John Trader

    Can I get an “amen?”

  • Anonymous

    To play devil’s advocate for a bit, would you have such a problem with the article if the headline wasn’t so misleading?

    • http://www.facebook.com/jason.mollica Jason Mollica

      Hi Jessica. That’s a good question… I’d have to say yes. It read as a blog post that was forced. And as Imelda Dulcich said, it was reading like a required HS essay. I’m all for posts that compare something in life to how it applies to PR/marketing/SM, but this was a bad one.

      • Anonymous

        For the record, I agree with you. I’m all for analogy type posts, as long as they are thought out and well-written.

  • http://twitter.com/MattLaCasse Matt LaCasse

    I didn’t read the article, but any article that sullies the name of swiss cheese is an article I want nothing to do with.

    To the larger point, this is why I don’t blog as often as others. I want to make sure that the idea I have is “meaty” (no pun intended) and has substance to it. Crap like that hurts our reputation as professionals as much as any sleazy spin artist.

    • http://www.facebook.com/jason.mollica Jason Mollica

      Better to blog when you have something really substantial and solid to offer, then just throwing something out and see what sticks.
      Thanks for reading this blog, Matt!

  • http://www.ericajmoss.com/ Erica Moss

    Jason, it’s like you took a page out of my PR diary — the types of bait-and-switch headlines I see these days in order to elicit a click are nauseating and, frankly, irresponsible. Kudos to you for encouraging everyone to set the bar higher.