Brace Yourself – You’re on Defense

Calling all PR Pro's! Get out there and dispel some rumors.

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.


4 thoughts on “Brace Yourself – You’re on Defense

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  1. DANG! You are going to get me fired up all over again!

    Three years ago, I was at a PR leader’s holiday reception and a big whig (I mean, big) spoke for a few minutes. He talked about how it’s our job to do what the client needs, even if it means spinning the truth. He also went on to say that things like Wikipedia and social media had no place in our jobs.

    And this is coming from the CEO of one of the largest publicly held PR firms (holding company). So if he thinks that, it’s no freaking wonder the real pros like you and me have to endure the jokes.

    I blogged about it (and this was way before I had an audience and really understood blogging) and it created a stir. If I were to rewrite the post, I’d be less careful about not hurting his feelings.

    Now I’m angry all over again! I may need to call you when I hear these jokes in the next two weeks! 🙂

    1. What a great post! I can relate to this unbelievably rude behavior as I have spent valuable time in these oft-ridiculed industries/professions over the past few decades: Yellow Pages advertising, cable television, the law and marketing/social media. Imagine the pokes, prods, insults and unreasonable attacks and comments I have enjoyed over the years! Yes, I can relate to what you’ve gone through. These comments are rude and inappropriate. I continue to be amazed that, even when people believe professions to be beneath them, they have the gall to speak their mind, not only outloud, but to the actual person who has chosen this as their career! Seriously, isn’t that some of the most horrific behavior imaginable?! My favorite ways to combat all of this has been to calmly and professionally have a discussion with them about my chosen profession, or the topic they’ve chosen to attack, thus helping them realize I know my “stuff,” am a true professional, and the truth is the farthest thing away from the topic and behavior they’ve chosen to attack. Those who exhibit this type of behavior are the ones whose professionalism and knowledge are questionable because they haven’t learned how to present themselves adequately, nor communicate with other human beings in a manner to be admired. Thanks for sharing this post and comment.

      1. Thanks for the RT and comment Nancy! I’ve found the same thing, the more level headed you are in situations like that the easier it is to prove your point.
        Especially because nine times out of 10 the one making the crude remark is just trying to get a rise out of you.
        Still oh so frustrating.

        Here’s hoping you don’t run into anyone like that over the holidays!

    2. Thanks for the comment Gini. My jaw always drops when I hear heavy hitters like that make those statements! A couple years ago at the PRSSA / PRSA National Conference one of the key note speakers said “spin” about 20 times in her address. She claimed she was trying to take the word back but all of us PR students were just stunned.

      After your post a couple weeks ago and preparing for the familial critique – “If you’re field is so great why are you still working temp jobs.”
      I just had to speak up.

      We’ll have to trade “jokes” and the anecdotes after the holidays. 🙂

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