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Cliches of the PR Industry

I’ve been around the block once or twice in my career, and along the way I’ve been exposed to some sayings, themes, ways of doing things, etc. that I’d like to chuck out the window. They do us a disservice as professional communicators, in my opinion.


In no particular order, here are a few of them:


1.     We’re Communicators - We Don’t Do Math. This is one of the biggest ways that PR people shoot themselves in the foot in the business world. In order to really move the needle for our clients/organizations, we have to understand how business works – and tie our work to business objectives, movement in the top and bottom lines and other metrics. None of this can be done without math. If we say (even in jest) that we can’t or won’t do math, we close ourselves off from executives and colleagues who are thinking like actual businesspeople. They will laugh and write us off. Even worse, we won’t prove our value, and over time we become irrelevant. It really is that simple.

2.     We Know Your Business. As a veteran of both corporate and agency environments, I know a few things to be true. One of them is that agency people say all the time that they understand a company’s business. They say this because they have a certain amount of experience in particular industry, or similar experience working inside a related company. But it’s quite simple: they don’t know that company’s business. They can’t. The only way we really know a company’s business is if we work there. Period. There are so many subtleties, proprietary systems, culture nuances, political factors and many other things in play that influence how things get done that we simply cannot understand unless we’re inside the firewall and on the payroll. And put yourself in the corporate hiring manager’s position – when agencies pitching me said they knew my business, I laughed at them. It’s overconfident and arrogant.


3.     I’m a People Person. It’s an oldie but goodie.


4.     I’ll Give You Some Time Back Now. Have you ever had a meeting or a conference call get done early – and then the leader of the meeting says that you can have your time back? I used to like it, but shouldn’t it be the goal of every meeting to complete work in an efficient manner? We don’t need to pat ourselves on the back for it in front of everyone when we get it right, do we? Besides – is our time really owned by whoever runs the meeting?


5.     Enter Your Time…Please… I’ll call this a cliché because everyone in an agency managerial role has to say it way too often. We all know it, but an agency cannot function well without an accurate accounting of the time that its employees spend working. And the longer you wait to record your time, the more you’re likely to forget or misrepresent your activity…yet I knew people who would wait a whole week or even longer to do it. I’ve worked for three agencies, and run my own firm, and I heard this plea almost daily in all of them. Well, in my agency, you log your time every day. If I can find the time to do it, you sure can. It’s simply part of the job, thank you very much.


6.     B2B PR isn’t Sexy. Well, maybe this isn’t a tired saying per se. But I resent the idea that any campaign that doesn’t reach hundreds of millions of eyeballs and/or feature a big stunt doesn’t create real value or isn’t that interesting/fun to work on. This tends to be the case almost all of the time when working in the B2B world. Sure, stunts can be fun, creative, stimulating, etc. But the most fun things I’ve done in my career were pitching toilet seat wipes to building owners…helping a start-up acquire some funding and go to market…help a high-tech company integrate a recent acquisition and spin it off a year later for a 3x return on investment…and the list goes on. To me, it’s incredibly fun and rewarding work, and it doesn’t necessarily require a six-figure expense budget.


What are the clichés of our business that you’d like to get rid of? You know you have one or two. We’d love to hear what they are!

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