Cry - verb: to shed tears, especially as an expression of distress or pain.
Public relations is a great profession. There’s variety, excitement and let’s not forget, a chance to have a real impact on an organization’s image and visibility.
But….then, as with any career, there are those days that are less than fabulous. When those moments arise, yes, we want to cry.
1. Being called a spinmaster. Sure, we know there are those in PR who give the rest of us a bad name by shilling their client shamelessly; even when they know it isn’t a good fit for the publication, they mercilessly hound reporters. But, many PR pros are skilled at understanding how to bring stories of value to journalists. So, please don’t call us spinmasters. It hurts our feelings.
2. Nitpicky changes to press releases and other documents. OK, the client feels that word REALLY needs to be in there…we get it. But, instead of insisting on unnecessary changes that don’t impact the message, maybe clients should trust us to do our job. Many of us have journalism or communications degrees—we know how to write. And, we know reporters cry when they see those buzzwords they want to throw in there.
3. Expecting something to go viral. “Oh, and we’d like this to go viral.” Every PR pro who’s ever heard this has probably gone back to his or her office and had a good cry. I’m not sure if most clients even know what that really means—so ask them, “What do you mean when you say go viral?” Sometimes by trying to get to the bottom of what they’re really thinking, you can get a better idea of what they’re after. In the meantime, go ahead—cry it out.
4. Thinking that all we do is plan parties. Yes, there are PR pros who specialize in event planning. In fact, many of us have some experience with events. But, that isn’t all we do. In fact, we do a whole lot more than just plan parties. We plan, strategize, write, counsel, communicate and measure results—and it makes us sad when folks believe otherwise.
5. Clients that expect reporters to do their bidding. This one will drive even the sanest PR pro over the edge. This isn’t advertising. No, there’s no opportunity to review a story before it’s published. And, a reporter won’t print a press release verbatim.
6. Expectations that are too high. Some clients, even those who’ve done little or no PR, truly believe they’ll start out in the big leagues. They think they’ll be in the Wall Street Journal tomorrow. This can make us weep. Time for a reality check. Everyone has to start somewhere.
7. Edits that are made—but not marked. This one can really cause some tears to flow. Sure, we’ll just telekinetically figure out where the client made those changes…hopefully, we’ll also catch the typos the client accidentally inserted in their quest to improve our carefully crafted piece.
8. No competition. Some clients will tell you—with a straight face—that they have no competitors. Not only is this a red flag, but it will definitely make a PR pro head straight for the Kleenex—and the Tylenol. If you tell a reporter you have no competitors, a good PR pro knows that he or she will find some—it’s better to be prepared.
9. Promising information—that then can’t be provided. This one makes PR pros bang their heads on the desk in frustration. When clients say they can provide something, they should be ready to bring it. This includes visuals, customer references, data to back up their claims—and the list goes on.
Michelle Messenger Garrett is a public relations consultant, speaker and award-winning writer with more than 20 years of agency, corporate, startup and Silicon Valley experience. She works with clients ranging from small businesses to enterprises such as Adobe and HP, assisting them in crafting and carrying out a PR strategy to help them get the word out, get noticed and increase visibility, prospects and sales.
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