Public Relations Professionals Need To Get The Basics Right

In the wake of the ongoing bad PR pitches storm, I had a *slap forehead* moment this week when I (finally) realized the problem isn’t just about public relations professionals not ‘getting’ blogger relations. It’s not about people upgrading their skills to deal with this new media environment. This is about public relations professionals getting the public relations fundamentals right.

I love Todd’s blogger relations bookmark – it’s a great primer for people getting involved with blogger relations. We should also remember, though, that the people pitching Chris Anderson were pitching him as the Editor In Chief of Wired magazine, not as a blogger.

The principles remain the same, though: Know your market. Research who to pitch. Find out what they write about. Tailor your approach. Don’t spam people. It’s not rocket science!

Terry Fallis and David Jones discussed on Inside PR a little while back that fall into PR rather than choose it. This is by no means unique to PR. Still, I wonder if a lack of training for those who enter PR without a formal education contributes to the problems we hear about hear about daily.

A large part of my job involves managing about 30 training courses in our own internal communications program. We provide a place where government communicators can upgrade their skills or fill the gaps in their knowledge.

Obviously small agencies don’t have the resources to offer a full program like this. How does they go about training new staff?

I wonder: Do PR agencies offer training (whether internally or contracted-out) to their staff or are people expected to just know how to go about it? Are people thrown into the deep end and expected to float?

As we’ve all seen recently, that seems to be a recipe for disaster.

  • Thanks for the kind words (again!), and, you are right that the challenges are as much based in Media Relations as Blogger Relations.

    I know many PR firms, ours included, have truly in-depth training programs… but people are going to still make mistakes. Fact of life.

    You might also keep in mind that bloggers and reporters can be … well, *cranky.* Even if PR pros do everything “right” they may still get dinged because their outreach just occurs on a bad day.

  • Good to hear – I figured you guys would have a good set-up!

    You’re right – mistakes will happen and people will be cranky.

    Still, I’ve read a lot of ‘these people just did what their bosses told them to do’ excuses. It seems that either those people are refusing accountability, or education is needed right up the chain.

  • I think Terry and David mentioned that a junior practitioner may be given marching orders and expected to produce results by a certain time–in some cases. And for a newbie not familiar with the correct procedure, something like the above fiasco could result.

    For me, as someone who will hopefully be working in PR when he finishes school, it’s slightly terrifying, mostly because if my potential boss handed me a CD with a list full of email addresses and told me to send out a release I probably wouldn’t do it and would end up getting fired.

    Is my bellicose view justified, or am I just scaring myself?

  • @Michael

    That’s funny…well the part about getting a CD handed to you is anyway.