Heal the world; make PR a better place

Yesterday, one of the team here was very… let’s say, unsettled by poor Twitter etiquette from a fellow tweeter, which was causing his feed to become clogged with irrelevant tweets. The perpetrator was making contact with numerous individuals but, instead of beginning the tweet with the recipient’s Twitter handle (so that unless followers follow both the tweeter and the recipient, the tweet doesn’t appear in their feed), they would invariably begin their 140 character message with a greeting, then the handle. Thus, every single ‘Hi @[person] – let’s talk about x, y and z’ tweet that was sent flooded my colleague’s feed, like interference on an important telephone call.

Now, this is pretty annoying in itself. However, what really got his blood up was the fact that this stream of inconsequential noise was coming from a PR consultancy. *gasp, faint*

It’s not looking good when communications advisors themselves cannot communicate properly. And unfortunately, this is not an isolated incident.

I know, from editing the Big Ideas blog, all too well what it’s like to find completely irrelevant, impersonal, blanket press releases in my inbox from PRs that studied at the ‘well, just send it out to as many as possible and someone’s bound to pick it up’ school of press relations. No wonder consumer PR gets a bad rep. The amount of times I’ve heard journalists at Gorkana media briefings pleading, “know our beat”… were the other 30 attendees too busy tweeting to absorb that pearl of wisdom?

So, why is this happening? Because we know that the PR industry is full of bright, talented and hard working individuals, not to mention award winning campaigns devised and executed by agencies stacked with creative resource.

The reality is that it’s the junior PRs being landed with the often gargantuan task of connecting with and selling in (frequently, non-) stories to the media. So embedded in the agency PR process is this now that it’s almost become a rite of passage, the initiation into the world of communications. If you survive, you can look forward to moving up the ladder and working in closer proximity to the client, leaving this thankless world behind. But it’s those that have made it this far that are perpetuating the cycle by not managing their clients’ expectations once they get there.

As Chris Lee writes in his excellent blog post, “The agency is sustained by those client fees, thus the senior team is also invested in making the crap releases “work”; the account managers feel the heat if they don’t work and the poor old exec is the one that has to pick up the phone and make it happen.”

Michael Jackson once sang, “Heal the world; make it a better place, for you and for me and entire human race.” Well, Account Directors, listen up. Heal the industry; make it a better place, for you, for your client and the plethora of Account Execs. Better managing expectations encourages an open, honest working relationship, which your client will value more than a team of over promising, under delivering ‘yes’ men. Not only that, but you’ll be elevating team morale and saving the industry’s ‘children’ from hours of agonising cold calls, tweets and irrelevant emails, for which they and the media will ultimately thank you.

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