After 17 years, I’ve come to the end of putting up with what most PR offers. It is time to draw a line in the sand. Accordingly, any PR that emails me gets this standard response: “I’ve stopped accepting email pitches. Please follow me on Twitter and pitch in 140 characters or less.” Why be so draconian?
When Louis Bernays figured out how to channel his cousin Sigmund Freud’s psychoanalytical approach to people, he created an entire industry based on the notion of ‘influence.’ It was incredibly effective. Bernays managed to con the American people into believing the automotive industry was a good thing. Now look at it. According to one colleague, Monster.com has over 5,000 PR related jobs. It ain’t a dying breed.
But look at what it does – or rather doesn’t do.
In any one day I field up to 20 PR requests. I can guarantee that 90+% of them have done zero research to find out what I’m interested in. In the worst cases they won’t have done a basic Google search to find out who I am or where my interests lay. In 2008, that’s beyond unacceptable, it’s criminal. Why?
PR costs anywhere between £1,500 to £30,000 a month, depending on what level of crap they’re selling to their unwitting clients. All of it is based on the desire to get the retainer rather than be measured on results. In the 1990′s, good PRs could write a half reasonable press release that would at least be engaging. You would have thought that with the tsunami of material about social media that in 2008 the situation would have moved on. Sadly not. If anything, the industry has regressed.
At a time when discretionary spend is under the microscope you have to ask yourself what useful purpose PR and social media play. When near zero cost alternatives abound and where creative examples like Hugh MacLeod and Loren Feldman exist, why does this industry continue to breathe?
As I said on Twitter: The genius of Hugh and Loren is that they state the everyday obvious in creative ways that make us smile.
The rest of PR makes me feel ill.
If you’re a professional considering PR then think carefully. Get past the Colgate smiles and sharp suits. Ask them what they really do. The answer will usually be laced in psychobabble.