Without question this is my favorite time of year. Snow is still beautiful and not an annoying hassle, I get to see family, Christmas music is on the radio 24/7 and I get to put shiny stuff all over my house.
On the flip side this time of year often means defending my chosen career field. Whether it’s the family member who always plays devils advocate, or the funny guy at the holiday party who takes the low blow at the “spin doctor,” this time of year can also be fairly trying. This year it seems even more pronounced than years past.
Three weeks ago Gini Dietrich, one of my PR idols, wrote a blog post called PR People Suck. It was commenting on a post written by an anonymous PR blogger. The way the anonymous post was written did nothing for PR’s reputation, in fact it just reinforced the old beliefs of holier-than-thou spin doctors. A reputation PR practitioners for the past 15 years have been working their butts off to change. Now I could write a lengthy post just about this situation but I’ll save that for another time.
A couple days after that post was brought to my attention I got an email from a good friend back in Michigan who is a reporter. She was interviewing a business owner and asked him after the interview about the PR side of his business. (She’s the best and is always looking for opportunities for me to head back to the Midwest). The business owner’s response to that question, and I quote, “I don’t need that PR s$&#, it’s a waste of time.” May I just say; case and point.
Finally, I was at a work party last week and was chatting with a coworker. It eventually came up that IT is not the field I studied and that I was in PR. Then came the on slaught of “oh so you’re probably big on social media right now.” A never ending parade of jokes about how creepy it is that my job is to be online stalking people and things all day. Now I have to give this one credit, he sent me an email the next day apologizing for what he said about PR.
What I encourage you to do over the holidays and in situations like this is to take time to explain to people how PR actually works. The fact that everyone needs some aspect of PR at one point or another. The best thing we can do as PR practitioners is to stand up to this and face the criticism and misunderstanding head on. Think of what you would suggest a client do if they faced this kind of bashing from their audience. You have them head off the criticism and dispel any rumors that arise.
I’ve heard this a million times; PR folks are so busy doing our jobs for our clients that we don’t manage our own fields reputation.
It’s time, so get out there and help people understand what PR is and dispel those misnomers and rumors about PR once and for all.