The PR Industry Does Need Better PRIt’s 5:23 a.m. and I’m sitting at my desk, watching the neighborhood start to light up as the sun rises.

The birds are chirping, squirrels (I hate those little rats with fuzzy tails) are running across the telephone wires, and people are beginning to walk their dogs.

As is my ritual, I start my day reading, particularly if I don’t already know what I’m going to blog about, which is the case this morning.

Sure, I could write about the absolute disaster that is Amy’s Baking Company Bakery Boutique & Bistro, but I think the way those business owners are behaving on Facebook is completely on purpose (they’ve been known to behave the same way on other sites, such as Yelp) so I won’t give them more than a…it really is worth reading because the meltdown is epic.

The PR Industry Needs Better PR

So I opened an article Roula Amire sent me and went down the rabbit hole of clicking on all the links in the story.

Titled, “The PR Industry Needs Better PR,” I rejoiced and began to read.

The author, Martine St. Victor (such a great name!) tells the story of how Samantha Jones, the “promiscuous party-hopping commitment-phobic PR professional” from Sex & the City set the stage for the stereotype that is the profession.

Not to be outdone, of course, by PR Girls and Lizzie Grubman, who was arrested and jailed in 2002 for backing her car into a crowd of bystanders at a nightclub.

But what struck me the most about the article? Are you sitting down? This is going to hurt.

In a recent article entitled “How to Apply PR Skills at Networking Events,” the article’s author writes: “The best female publicists know how and when to reveal a bra strap.”

So, of course, I clicked.

PR Skills at Networking Events?

The article, written a couple of years ago, talks about how to use your PR skills at a networking event (I still haven’t figured out what PR skills those are, but we’ll go with it).

The author suggests things such as: Listen and interact, make eye contact, “it’s not about me; it’s about you,” and dress the part.

I’m still trying to figure out how those are PR skills, but still going with it.

  1. Listen and interact. “The worst publicists talk to you and ask few questions. The best publicists know how to drive conversations.” First of all, PR and publicity are not the same. I feel like I’m going to say that until I’m literally blue in the face, but they’re not the same. Secondly, these are not skills of publicists. These are skills of human beings who know how to listen.
  2. Make eye contact. “This is a common sense rule, but many people at this networking event failed to make consistent eye contact.” OK. I’ll give him this one…sort of. When we do media training, we teach executives not to look around the room while they’re talking to a reporter. Just like it does anyone else, it makes a journalist feel like you’re looking for someone more important. And, if you make a journalist feel that way, they’re surely to write a story about you that isn’t so flattering.

    That said, it’s not the skill of a PR person. I was recently at a fundraising dinner and a woman asked me a very specific question. While I answered her, she was scanning the room and, right in the middle of a sentence, she put her hand on my arm and said, “I’m so sorry. I see the Alderman over there.” And she bounced away. I felt like an idiot and now I have zero respect for her.

  3. It’s not about me. It’s about you. “In publicity, I tell clients we need to think of what the media needs – not what you need. It’s no different at networking events.” Again, not a PR skill. It’s a HUMAN BEING SKILL.
  4. Dress the part. But here’s the kicker: “The best female publicists know how and when to reveal a bra strap. The best male publicists know when a touch on the elbow is appropriate and how long to hold on during a handshake.” I have no words. NO. WORDS. The kicker? The people in the comments agree with this statement.

I’m with Martine St. Victor…the PR industry does need better PR.

Let’s start with those who call publicity PR and then move to those who think a bra strap revelation means you’re networking like a PR pro.

Gini Dietrich

Gini Dietrich is the founder, CEO, and author of Spin Sucks, host of the Spin Sucks podcast, and author of Spin Sucks (the book). She is the creator of the PESO Model and has crafted a certification for it in partnership with Syracuse University. She has run and grown an agency for the past 15 years. She is co-author of Marketing in the Round, co-host of Inside PR, and co-host of The Agency Leadership podcast.

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