The PR industry has been put under a mighty fine microscope lately with articles in the NY Times, TechCrunch and other news sources actually calling people out by name and threatening the reputation of our industry as a whole. While I’m not going to rant about these articles, or give you a list of how we would have done things differently, I will suggest a few things we can do as individuals/PR professionals to start repairing our industry image, and represent ourselves just as we would with any other client.
Keep your cool. It’s easy to get frustrated and fed up with inaccurate portrayals of our industry, but the more emotional we get, the harder it is to prove our point.
Control the response. In reaction to these anti-PR articles published were hundreds of comments left mostly by PR people (rightfully so). However, it made me wonder whether these responses were really strategic, or rather, fired-off in the heat of the moment. Addressing inaccuracies or off-based statements within an article is by all means necessary, and something I’m sure we’d all recommend for a client in similar situations – however, sometimes I’d say it’s fair to evaluate the situation and determine whether what you have to say has already been said. If so, maybe save it for another time and avoid fueling the fire. Among the 84 comments left in response to the NY Times piece, I especially liked this one – realistic, and straight to the point: “Just like plumbers, school teachers, CEOs and restaurant owners – some PR firms are five star and some stink. The takeaway is this…good PR people never lie about results.” The message was brief, yet effective.
Pitch the positives. A more proactive way to help fight negative stereotypes against our industry is to do what we do best – share our success stories. Pitching positive case studies about PR campaigns that work is one way to inform people about the great things we do as an industry. Instead of focusing our energy on fighting every single battle, let’s redirect it to an activity that can actually make a difference.
Stick together, and speak up. I loved reading Gini Dietrich’s post on Spin Sucks in response to some of the negative PR articles. It made me happy to hear other PR professionals out there willing to speak up and stick up for our industry in a professional manner.
In the end, we’re not going to get every single angry writer to change their mind about PR people – we may not even convince just one. Ultimately, all we can do is focus on our work as individuals and agencies, building a stronger reputation by doing excellent work for our clients. When all is said and done, we’re not the only industry being picked on, there are negative stereotypes out there about many professions, but it’s important to know when to stand our ground and how to do it right.
What do you think about all of this? Any tips to add to the list on how to do PR for our own industry?