Monthly Archives: May 2008

Stuff PR People Like

Piggy-backing one of my favorite blogs, these are some observations of a Pre-PRo and should be taken as such. However, I have to say, these are some things I’ve noticed as I’ve hung out with more of “you people” and when I ponder these and look at my future in PR, I’m good with it. Here’s why:

Stuff PR People Like (in no particular order):

  • Blogs, Blogging, the Blogosphere: We like being part of it all. We like the reciprocity. We give, you give back.
  • Business-Casual: We clean up pretty good. But we sure like to pair our heals or loafers with a nice pair of Seven jeans and a sweater rather than your usual pant-suite. It lets us not only show our personal style and trendiness, but it’s also damn comfortable.
  • San Francisco/Boston/New York City: Everywhere I applied had an office in one of these cities. I can explain SF and Boston – close enough to the news making action (NYC, Silicon Valley), but far enough away to deny association if necessary. New York? Meh – it is what it is. EVERY facet of the business world is there. Helloooo.
  • Happy Hour: I have never been invited out for Happy Hour more than when I’m with PR people. Not that my social agenda is limited in any way. ButHappy Hour does serve as a good place and time to not only wind down and enjoy some well deserved brews and bar food, but it also offers great networking opportunities.
  • New Technology: Want a virtually free platform to spread your message in fun ways to finely-tuned target audiences? Why, yes. Thank you.
  • Apple/Macs: PR people love something that works well and is aesthetically pleasing. And we love Silicon Valley. And iTunes. And Steve Jobs.
  • Ethics: Since PR is such a developing industry, ethics come in all shades of gray. This presents a challenge or a game for PR people to see what kinds of tactics can be implemented while respecting ethical boundaries and yet pushing that line just enough to be noticed. As if this weren’t enough, we like to talk about, rehash and find new definitions for ethics.
  • Green: Being “green” and eco-friendly is such a successful PR campaign. It was something that used to grate on the nerves of corporate and even mainstream America. But through ingenious product placement (Urban Outfitters) and celebrity endorsement (Leonardo DiCaprio), being “green” isn’t a chore anymore: It’s hot.
  • Barack Obama: Even if we’re not going to vote for him, we tend to at least appreciate his image and reputation management. Talk about brilliance: getting Will.I.Am to produce not just one but TWO videos on your behalf and a consistent and engaged presence on Twitter. If nothing else, it gets our attention in a big way. (Speaking of which…)
  • Twitter: Thank god for it, really. For me, it serves for networking, blog promotion, research tool and journal. And that’s just for my own personal use. I imagine the possibilities for PRos and businesses are endless. Plus, it’s pretty addictive in that it takes some skill to know how to craft updates and choose links that’ll get you noticed.

On the other hand, here is a compilation of stuff PR people don’t (really) like:

  • PR people: PR is an industry in which, to become a PR professional, you can have studied anything but PR. People have been wary of me, time and again, in interviews and classes because I’m a Journalism major with a focus in PR. It’s one of the most irritating things I’ve ever encountered: English students who will probably end up practicing PR who judge me because while they have seminar classes on Olde English and Whitman, I have seminar classes on PR research methods.
  • PC’s: Even as I write this post from a PC, I’m thinking about how limited I am in that my processor is slow and susceptible to viruses and that to the world, my computer looks like that bumbling guy on the Mac commercials.
  • Liars: We work so hard to communicate the truth (even if we’re a little creative about it sometimes, that it just pisses us off when others aren’t truthful. Or at least it does me.
  • Advertising: We do basically the same thing as far as branding goes, only for less money. We also, though, handle reputation management, networking, investor relations, community relations, media relations, etc. The list goes on. Sometimes, I think I’m better than them. Even though I revere Weiden+Kennedy sometimes for their Nike and Smirnoff ads.
  • The words “publicity” and “promotion”: Oh, PLEASE. Don’t limit us to publicity and promotion. We’re so much more than that. We are democratizing, media-attention-grabbing, conversation-joining, image-consulting,  brand-positioning, product/start-up launching bad-asses who will DO WORK for you.

Feel free to add, subtract or even correct via comment. I was feeling pretty audacious today. I guess.

Cinematic Savvy: Cool Hand Luke

Thought I’d get your attention with Mr. Paul Newman.

“What we got here is a failure to communicate.”

This observation from the road crew captain in the film brings to mind several instances where this very truth has caused havoc in my personal and professional (or pre-professional) life. Whether it’s laziness, disdain or sheer ignorance that’s ruptured the flow of healthy verbal relations, it always means another failure is in store.

Relationships – duh. Oprah and a host of highly-qualified psychological professionals say we need communication for our relationships and if it isn’t there, relationships sink.

But in the professional environment, maybe you don’t get emotionally wounded, but lack of communication means your team, and ultimately your client, takes it right in the gut.

I’ve experienced this on both sides. There was an instructor who failed to clearly communicate expectations, due dates and functions of each task assigned and remained unapproachable. This led to a lot of struggling and eventual dissent from the class members who left the class confused about what was assigned, much of it very important to our careers. The one lesson I’ve taken from this example is that you can’t always trust the people you work under to lay it all out for you. I guess.

On the other hand, in leaving town on a planned trip one week, I left my team high and dry without knowing it and accidentally skipped out on a huge deadline because we failed to properly communicate under the urgent circumstances. Luckily, the client was still provided with information they needed in a timely fashion and no bridges were burned.

Now, it would be easy for me to say: this is what happens when there is a failure to communicate. But it can get much worse. When communication is sacrificed, other things are tossed out too: trust of team members and clients, reputation among colleagues and networks and most importantly, the ability to hold yourself to a standard of having decent respect for those you work with and the things you work for. These are big losses.

I hope my examples illustrated that it isn’t always a lack of timely or dependable communication that’s the problem- when I’d gone out of town, my team had attempted to reach me by e-mail rather than phone – but sometimes it’s the quality of what’s communicated that causes a problem. Sincerity, consideration, and professionalism are always appreciated.

Honesty will also score high.

The Cinematic Savvy series is designed to explore themes and ideas from certain films. Inspiration can be drawn from characters, their quotes, their circumstances, historical approaches depicted – it’s my blog, I’ll take it where I get it. I love film and I love PR. Let’s see how they influence me.

*Image courtesy of /www.johnmariani.com