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All words people seem to tack on to this career choice we have made called Public Relations. And I’m sick of it!
I had the recent pleasure of meeting one of Connecticut’s finest journalists. I’ll leave her name out here because it serves no purpose. But trust me she is a legend in this State.
Her statement comes off a bit rough out of context, but we were discussing local PR firms and how she can’t stand some of the sloppy things they do (e.g. misspellings, poor grammar, etc. in the work they distribute to the media).
“I can’t believe they get paid as much as they do!” . . .Wish you could have seen my face after this statement. Shall we recall?
From this short comment, I was inspired to write a bit about what we PR professionals do not actually do (even though the world is convinced we do). Please note: I cannot speak for everyone in this industry. I am merely commenting on what I have observed and how I practice my job as an Account Coordinator.
1. Spin: This word combined with the words ‘public’ and ‘relations’ makes me physically shudder. I’ve had clients ask: “can we spin this a different way?” We do not, should not, cannot spin in this profession. Can we word things, as I like to say “prettily?” Yes. Odds are we got into this business because we might possibly be a bit right-brained and love writing. So, yes, we word things in a “pretty” way (for lack of a better term), but shame on you if you spin. Shame! Our job is to tell the truth and tell it efficiently. If you messed up, or a crisis hit your client, admit and remedy the situation. It will only ever come back to bite you if you don’t. NO SPIN. Ugh, Bill O’Reilly.
2. Hover: Same journalist from above offered some great advice: “don’t let the entourage crowd your talent.” I don’t know if this is just a personal preference of mine, but when my clients are being interviewed by a journalist, IF I’m in the room with them, I’m plenty of feet away. Most of the time, I tune in for a bit, but then let the interviewer and interviewee do their thing. What you can do here as a PR pro to lighten the “oh my gawd, my client swears and says the most nonsensical things” feelings, is to (duh) prep your client with talking points/a briefing document. Direct them on how best to answer common and difficult questions and to, for goodness-sake, spit out that gum! Seriously though, don’t be a Black Hawk.
3. Make six figures: Aright, alright . . . there are those public relations professionals in the corporate field, agency world, academia, publicity, self-made, investor relations, etc. positions who make plenty of dough. Good for them. But average starting salary at a PR agency for a new college grad is$28-$32k (really outdated link, but you get my point). And we don’t magically end up making a million dollars the following year. Yes, many journalists have come over to “the dark side” as one of my college professors used to refer to it. Some for more money. But let’s be honest, this isn’t the highest paying job. I would love to know where people get that impression . . . oh Lizzy Grubman or Command Public Relations anyone?
So what are some other myths or misunderstandings about the public relations profession you would like to disprove here and now?? I wanted to keep my list relatively short so I can hear from you! I’d love your thoughts.
For a little fun . . . and just because he enjoys being the contrarian . . . please read my PRBC colleague’s related post on why we “fulfill” all of these labels I just tried to disprove