It’s sometimes quite hard to tell people how PR works. I usually just go with ‘we make people famous’. It’s easier that way.
For every person who hasn’t got a clue about PR, there’s also one that thinks they know exactly how it works. You tend to find that’s because they’ve watched a couple of episodes of Absolutely Fabulous, which inevitably leaves them absolutely deluded about the industry.
Part of the problem is that PR is one of the easiest industries to stereotype and there are the odd few that seem hell-bent on perpetuating those myths. You tend to find that most of those people were in their heyday in the late 80s / early 90s and a big part of them still seems to be there.
It’s been a while since I’ve produced a list of shame, but here are the top five PR stereotypes that really get my goat:
We’re all ladies who lunch.
You get two for the price of one with this stereotype. Firstly, not all PR people are women.
Secondly, the days of wining and dining contacts and journalists are also long gone. You don’t win clients or get coverage based on the amount you spend on sushi or a bottle of bubbly. It’s based on experience, delivery and quality. Most PRs and journalists would actually tell you that there’s very little time for drawn out, boozy lunches anymore anyway.
We all air kiss.
Some do. We don’t. It’s a bit fake.
Some of my clients get a handshake and some get a hug and that’s because we work really hard to become part of our clients’ marketing teams. So, however we greet them, it’s the genuine way we’d say hello to a colleague.
We’re all airheads
I’ve got a first class BA in English Literature and an MA with distinction in Television Journalism. All of my colleagues have degrees too. Do we really need to expand?
We have no news judgment
Some journalists complain that some PR agencies don’t understand the news. This tends to be because they get hounded a lot by SEO companies who also masquerade as PR agencies. Their priority is to get a link and, more often than not, they aren’t that bothered about the content and will just slap out a generic email to journalists.
Any decent PR agency will have ex-journalists on the team. Those who have written or read the news will also know how to create it. They’ll know the best time to call a journalist, how a newsroom works and the news hook to take for a story.
We’re all ‘lovely’ and ‘nice’
In my head, Gloria Hunniford is nice, pencil-pleat curtains are lovely and vanilla ice cream is a little bit blah. Of course there’s nothing wrong with being nice and lovely but you can’t just be those things if you’re going to be good at PR. You also need to be shrewd, you need to be ballsy when you’re getting the third-degree from a journalist and you need to be tenacious to get results for your client. Nice and lovely people stand back and watch. True PR people make waves.
Rant over. Enjoy your day.