10 reasons why the future of the PR industry is doomed!

I don’t usually read industry magazines or websites, but today I made an exception.  I should know better. Two articles on Ragan’s PR Daily caught my attention.  The first, by Nicole Rose Dion is called 10 mistakes and the lessons learned from the PR world.  If you work in PR and this is how you run your client accounts then you need to go do something else.

Some of Ms. Dion’s “mistakes”, (in addition to writing this article), include:

  • “… admitting [to a client] to a mistake in an email”.  Nicole suggests talking to the client about it on the telephone because, “You never want to give your client or contact hard (written) evidence to use against you.”.  If your client relationship is so fragile that you can’t own up to a mistake, and worry that by admitting it you give them ammunition to fire you down the line then you really shouldn’t be working with them.

Lesson learned: Honesty counts for everything in a client/agency relationship – on both sides.  Owning up to a mistake and explaining how you’re going to fix it is, in my book, always preferable to having a ‘quiet chat’ that can be denied if necessary.

  • You tried to help.  Nicole’s lesson learned is “No matter what your intentions, don’t try to help in a situation when you don’t have to.”  She advocates you “let it go” if a journalist or client is “having a meltdown or is complaining to your coworker about something and you think you can help”.  Either that, or letting your boss deal with the problem.

Lesson learned: Understanding the cause of the “meltdown” is critical. It’s the only way it can be resolved quickly and to the satisfaction of the client.  It’s worth noting that my advice is actually to take steps to avoid the problem in the first place, but simply passing the buck to a colleague or boss won’t do anything for your long-term credibility with the client or journalist.  I know my approach is old-fashioned, but it’s also effective.

  • You didn’t BCC people in a mass email.

Lesson learned: If you can’t work Outlook then you really shouldn’t be allowed near a computer let alone working in PR.  HR failed if you can’t, and they let you!

  •  You sent your client your media list. Nicole suggests this is a bad idea for two reasons.  They might start contacting journalists, or you both might end up looking stupid if you contact the same person.
Lesson Learned: It’s about account management.  If a client is contacting journalists rather than having you do it [after all, they’re probably paying you to do it] then it suggests you’re not doing it right.  If you are both calling journalists and can’t agree who calls who… you shouldn’t be managing PR accounts for clients.  As for sharing media lists with clients, the list should be compiled and agreed with the client and reviewed on a regular basis to ensure that it remains relevant. More on clients and media lists in a future post…  

The second article that caught my eye today is called 7 Signs your PR efforts need a reboot by Dorothy Crenshaw, one of PR Week’s 100 Most Powerful Women.  But, more about that later!!

4 Replies to “10 reasons why the future of the PR industry is doomed!”

  1. Excellent article; the paragraph about not bcc’ing people in a mass email applies to everyone in every industry. Surprising how many people haven’t learned that by now.

    1. I think it’s symptomatic. The PR industry has a reputation for being unaccountable, deceptive and for mis-truths, so when an advisory article appears in one of the industry’s leading online publications suggesting that taking formal responsibility for mistakes and passing the buck when there’s a problem [amongst others] I worry for my industry. It is, in my opinion, hardly the example that seasoned professionals should be setting! It will also do nothing to quell the cynicism with which the PR industry is viewed and is a fast track to having budgets reduced or allocated to other disciplines.

  2. The pr industry is not made up solely of saints. Motivations vary as much in this biz as in anything else. But the fact remains that companies need people with experice to help others learn about them, and most of us are pretty damn good at that.

    I find Dion’s advice about handling mistakes misguided because, while no one ever goes looking for mistakes, they can open doors previously locked. Let’s face it: Everyone tries to act like the consummate professional all the time. So here we all are, hoping not to accidentally reveal any chinks in our professional armor. A mistake does exactly that. But as Leonard Cohen sings… “There is a crack, a crack, in everything. That’s how the light gets in.” I can point to a half dozen relationships with clients and reporters that have grown as a result of dealing with a mistake.

    If you screw up, own it! It shows you’re human.

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