A few days ago I saw some news flash across my screen that a PR rep for Lela Rose had mistakenly sent out an email blast that included a list of celebrities who declined to attend the runway show instead of the intended media tip sheet.
I immediately sympathized with the PR pro and even though it did lead to some press for the event, I know the rep probably wanted to swan dive right out of their office window into oncoming traffic.
This got me thinking. What are some other horrible things that happen in PR that we never really talk about publicly.
Here are 10 of the worst things that happen to PR people (in no particular order of horribleness):
1. Realizing You’ve Sent the Wrong Information to the Media
The worst part about realizing that you’ve sent the wrong information to the media is that you know they’re probably going to report it. Especially, if it’s juicy like in the case above.
Helpful tip: If you’re using Gmail/Google Apps for Business for your professional emails, make sure you activate the “Undo Send” feature in Google Labs. But beware, you only have 30 seconds to realize you’ve made an error before your email lands in that person’s inbox.
2. Not Getting Paid
PR agency owners and solo PR pros will be able to relate to this one the most. Not getting paid on time or at all by a client is the absolute worst. And 9 times out 10, when a client withholds payment it’s due to a lack of trust and/or respect.
3. Bad Clients
They micromanage your team, always try to haggle you about your rates, don’t value your counsel, never believe that they’re in crisis mode until it’s too late, etc.
4. Spelling a Reporter/Blogger’s Name Wrong or Calling Them Someone Else Altogether
The moment you realize you’ve spelled a reporter’s name wrong in an email, you either want to jump out of your office building’s window or crawl under your desk.
It’s an honest, human mistake that unfortunately isn’t forgiven often by the person on the receiving end. You know you’ve seen those tweets or blog posts “outting” a PR person or firm for “not knowing who I am,” or “being too lazy to get it right.” It’s super annoying, which is why I’m usually very forgiving when the same thing happens to me.
I won’t even tell you guys how many times I’ve been called “Tequila” on the phone. No, really. This happens. And when it does, I laugh and kindly correct them.
5. When Your Client is Overlooked For a Story You’ve Been Pitching for Months
Your initial reaction:
Your client’s reaction:
6. Media Contacting Your Client Directly Even Though They Know You’re the Rep
Seriously, guys. Just stop, because it’s all fun and games until you get referred back to the publicist anyway. Save yourself some time.
7. When You’re Asked to Publicize Something That You Know Isn’t “News”
If you’ve ever had to put a press release on the wire announcing that your company’s conference room just got new chairs or that you’ve issued an internal award for the person with the best cat costume, this one’s for you.
Even after you explain why something won’t work as a pitch and/or press release to your client, most executives, thinking that they know what’s best, will ask you to pitch it anyway.
And when no one bites, your client may say “oh, I guess you were right,” but your reputation as a PR pro is tarnished a bit because media types are collectively rolling their eyes in your direction because YOU should have known better.
8. Being Undervalued
Ever worked your butt off for a client and when they’re out reaping the benefits of all of the great press you’ve gotten them, they don’t even acknowledge your existence? It’s not so much the getting credit part that’s bothersome, it’s the fact that they actually believe they would have gotten to where they are without you that stings the most.
9. Being in a Profession That Most People Don’t Understand
If you’ve ever tried to explain PR to your friends or family members, you know what I mean. Their reaction is always a mix of blank glassy-eyed stare with a mild squint as they try to make sense of what you’re telling them.
10. No Days Off
PR pros are constantly thinking and strategizing of ways to move a client’s business forward.
Everything is an opportunity that needs to be leveraged or an inspiration point that can lead to a solution. Could be why PR is consistently ranked in the top 10 list for most stressful jobs in America.
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