You suck

Nothing. Squat. Zilch. Nada. No, seriously – there is absolutely nothing wrong with the PR industry.

There’s plenty wrong with some of the people in it, but is that the industry’s fault? No – it’s the person’s fault for being an asshat.

An industry, by definition, is either a collection of businesses, or the building of an idea around something or someone. Not a living, breathing person – but a collective of many things.

So blaming a whole industry for crappy practices is like blaming the complete city garbage removal system because one of your bags got left behind. Shit happens – but it’s people that cause shit, not industries.

Yes, there are craptastic shysters in the PR industry. But that can be said about pretty much every single industry full stop.

Social media (though I’m not sold on tools being classed as an industry) has idiots.

Marketing has idiots.

Advertising has idiots.

My local pool has an idiot for a lifeguard.

Industries don’t create bad results; or shameful practices; or questionable ethics. People do.

Something to keep in mind when you decry a whole industry and take down the good people that are doing all they can to counter the clueless ones.

image: JKonig

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95 Comments on "You Know What’s Wrong With The PR Industry?"


callierenee87
3 years 6 months ago

Okay that last comment turned out worse than I thought. That should say the number of calls to the domestic abuse help hotline increased by about 60 percent.

callierenee87
3 years 6 months ago

I’m a public relations major, and I care. You are misinformed or not informed at all. My professors care greatly about the integrity of the industry, and the importance of ethics is drilled into our heads in every class. I don’t see why it would be any different at any other university. In these classes I have studied many cases where PR has made a positive difference in society. Because of a public relations campaign, the number of calls made to the stincreased by about 6, which undoubtedly saved lives considering 1 in 5 women mmurdered were killed by t their suppose or boyfriend. I personally chose a career in public relations in PR because I want to to make a difference. I guess every part of my argument could be discounted since R is bullshit because I was trained that way, .. The nthe message of the Texas campaign is “break the silence make the call” google it. Sorry for typos. My iPad is on the fritz. Just had to comment because this type of stereotyping is offensive to me. PR is a powerful force in our Socity, but that and it can be used for good or bad.

DannyBrown
3 years 6 months ago

@callierenee87 You do know this post is defending the PR industry, though, yes?

callierenee87
3 years 6 months ago

Oh yes, and thanks! My post was in reply to Ari.

Ari Herzog
3 years 10 months ago

Yes there are idiots and because of their lack of knowledge shit happens. But that’s not an excuse but a reason to change. Sadly they don’t care to change and nor do their bosses.

Darren
3 years 10 months ago

All the comment are very true, I hope that the next generation of PR’s can move the industry forward. I will be a big challenge

Jk Allen
3 years 10 months ago

I love your frame of view Danny.

People say that guns are bad. Nope, they’re not. Some people are bad with guns.

And they say that money is evil. No it’s not, again…it’s the worship of money that leads to evil.

It’s not the “thing” it’s the people that give the “thing” a bad wrap.

So, to me, the PR industry is juuuuust fine!

Have a great week Danny!

Rachael
3 years 10 months ago

Great post. This is so true. EVERY industry has people who are not good at their job or aren’t ethical. Look at the recent scandals in the Washington, DC police department for instance. Thankfully companies and organizations have a choice when it comes to choosing something like…a PR agency or consultant and they should do careful research to pick the right person/agency for the job. I mean would you let some random person on the street babysit your child? I sure hope not. I rest my case.

Keith Trivitt
3 years 10 months ago

Now this has to be the best response I’ve read thus far to the TechCrunch post in which the TC writer attempted to juxtapose his seemingly large complaint with one private firm (Facebook) as an indictment of the entire profession.

Well done, Danny, and thank you for a) not taking 2,100 words to make your point (as the TC writer did); and b) actually making a point that resonates with many others and has some factual basis to it.

Keith Trivitt
PRSA

3 years 10 months ago

Jeez, mate, I struggle with 210 words, never mind 2,100. Now, Ingrid above, on the other hand… ๐Ÿ˜‰

Ingrid Abboud
3 years 10 months ago

Ha! THANK YOU DB!
I think you managed to sum up the human race in less than 100 words :). Not to mention that the word asshat seems like a perfect fit for many.

Reading this – all I could think of are the “shit for brains” that make up some of the governments we have around the world.

So how do you deal with the asshats?

I think Gini does a great job in trying to “educate” folks by focusing on the good things in the PR industry all while highlighting the bad (every so often) and laying out how things could have been handled differently.

At the end of the day – it’s people that make up a business or industry and it’s only them that can sway public opinion or perception of that said industry or company.

What sucks though – is that others pay the price for the mistakes of asshats. So in reality – it’s not really fair overlook the good and judge an entire industry by the mistakes made by some.

Very often in our life, we focus on the 2% that’s wrong instead of the 98% that’s good. Maybe the same applies here and it’s only by focusing on the good that we can change perceptions. What do you think? Does that make sense?

Great discussion topic Danny and needless to say that your wise words are spot on!

Hope you had a great weekend my friend.
Cheers

3 years 10 months ago

Hey there miss,

Couldn’t agree more – Gini, and others like her, are really leading the way on how things should be done.

Now if we could only get an all-seeing governing body with her in charge… ๐Ÿ˜‰

Erica Allison
3 years 10 months ago

I don’t think I’ve ever heard the word asshat before, but I do believe I love it! Well done, Danny Brown. Well done.
Thank you.

3 years 10 months ago

See reply to Lisa above. Damn, now I wish I had invented it!! ๐Ÿ˜‰

Maybe a line of T-shirts?

Lisa Gerber
3 years 10 months ago

Asshats and craptastic shysters? I think I love you. You also summed up what a lot of us have been talking about, in a lot fewer words. To use Davina’s word: “Word!”

3 years 10 months ago

I can’t take credit for the word asshats, I got that from a Facebook Group.

But I’ll take the love if it’s still up for grabs? ๐Ÿ˜‰

Lisa Gerber
3 years 10 months ago

yes, you can still have it. :)

Extreme John
3 years 10 months ago

Good point Danny. There is absolutely nothing wrong with the PR industry. It’s all about the people behind who are being manipulative of their industry to the extent that their main function becomes impaired and the whole system gets impaired. Maybe this is why the industry is mostly blamed as a whole.

3 years 10 months ago

Exactly, mate – look at any industry that has a crap reputation as a whole, and generally it’s because the players at the top are corrupt, or greedy, or immoral.

Get rid of them…

Mick O'Keeffe
3 years 10 months ago

Good point & I am tired of PR bashing.. I do though shudder when my media friends list off their latest Pr stupidity storie & the industry has mixed quality but problem is you can’t hide someone in the corner in PR & hope nobody notices… There is mixed quality in every industry… It is frustrating for people with high standards to be tarnished with the foolishness of a few…

3 years 10 months ago

Yep, that’s definitely one of the bigger issues, Mick – it’s pretty hard to hide when your industry is such a public-facing one. ๐Ÿ˜‰

Gini Dietrich
3 years 10 months ago

I hope Michael Arrington reads this.

Bill Dorman
3 years 10 months ago

Of course he will; everybody reads Danny, right?

3 years 10 months ago

I don’t think Mickey Dolenz does.

Bill Dorman
3 years 10 months ago

Actually he does, I think it’s Michael Nesmith who thinks he is too good for this sort of thing……just sayin’….

3 years 10 months ago

Highly doubtful. Even if he did, he wouldn’t care. ๐Ÿ˜‰

Howie at Sky Pulse Media
3 years 10 months ago

Who is Michael Arrington? Is he the guy who invented the little stupid rubber bands grade school kids wear? If so he is brilliant. If not…well I guess not so smart.

Gini Dietrich
3 years 10 months ago

It’s crazy that so many kids wear those bands, isn’t it? But I don’t think it was Arrington.

Howie at Sky Pulse Media
3 years 10 months ago

Arrington and Pete Cashmore are to me damaged personal brands that affect their business. Granted Mashable has questionable reporting but tech crunch in general is much better. But I have read some of Arrington’s arrogant whiney whimpy blog posts when someone doesn’t treat him the way he thinks he deserves which makes it really hard for me to take TC seriously. He is like the Dick Cheney of Tech Blogs

Janet @ The Natural Networker
3 years 10 months ago

Amen. General statements don’t work unless you are a General!

Mimi Meredith
3 years 10 months ago

As long as there are humans in human interaction, there will be a percentage of people who chose to be manipulative, self-serving and…asshats. It’s a great word. I do believe the only way to mitigate that behavior is to ignore them. Truly. Trying to offer new standards or education to change behavior of people who’ve reaped the benefits of the cheap and easy all their careers is a bit like teaching a pig to sing…

3 years 10 months ago

Couldn’t agree more, Mimi. Sure, we can keep pointing out a really bad approach – but offer why it’s wrong, and how it could have been done better.

Promote the good and ignore the bad consistently enough, and we may just start to see a shift in perception. We can hope, anyhoo… ๐Ÿ˜‰

leon Noone
3 years 10 months ago

G’Day Danny,
Every so often, someone in the blogosphere says something eminently sane, It’s a very small cub. This post entitles you to platinum membership.

Well bloody said!

Regards

Leon

3 years 10 months ago

Is there a badge for this club? Or at least a nice tie? ๐Ÿ˜‰

Cheers, mate – and ignore that Howie fella, he’s just upset that aliens are generally looked down upon. ๐Ÿ˜‰

leon Noone
3 years 10 months ago

G’Day Danny,
If we did design a Gny Sty we could put Howie in it… and let him wallow: or pulsate perhaps!

I know who’s on first: John Kotter.

Do the best you can with Sunday

Thanks

Leon

3 years 10 months ago

I like it!

Right back at you, mate – not sure if you have children, but Happy Father’s Day, hope it was a good one. :)

Howie at Sky Pulse Media
3 years 10 months ago

Uhm if you call Danny sane he might lose half his readers!

leon Noone
3 years 10 months ago

Howie,
I said that the comment was sane. But I don’t mind being misquoted by those who don’t share the superior Celtic cultural accoutrements of Mr Brown and I.
Regards

Leon

Amber-Lee Dibble
3 years 10 months ago

Danny,
You said it all. Your readers said it all.

There are so MANY outstanding people out here in this land connected to our fingers… and yet, the idiots, asshats, whatever term flips a personal switch… they are there too.

I truly believe that there are enough humans, passionate enough to drown them out and wash them away. Simply because of something you wrote….not very long ago (?) about the fact that folks ARE seeing thru the B.S.

And just one quick question… is there some sort of a list of what in the world all the acronyms Davina uses?! ~Amber-Lee

3 years 10 months ago

Hey there Amber-Lee,

I gave up on Davina’s acronyms a looong time ago – there are just too many! ๐Ÿ˜‰

I do remember I questioned whether the real Davina was commenting once as she used the full version of an acronym – that’s how much I’ve gotten used to them! :)

Howie at Sky Pulse Media
3 years 10 months ago

Let me add US Banking and Wall Street fighting to continue practices that led to the financial meltdown and fighting tooth and nail not to have consumer protections.

Bill Dorman
3 years 10 months ago

All about the money; don’t want to lose that gravy train……

Howie at Sky Pulse Media
3 years 10 months ago

Speaking of gravy train are you seriously giving Danny and I expense accounts? We promise not to abuse them.

Bill Dorman
3 years 10 months ago

Of course and I know you will use them judiciously………………

3 years 10 months ago

I will trade my expense account for a DeLorean.

Howie at Sky Pulse Media
3 years 10 months ago

I agree and disagree.

If people and agencies pay money to belong to an organization that is selfish and arrogant and then does things that prevent ethics and good practice do you blame people or the industry.

Examples:

The Ad Industry wants to self police advertising to children vs taking a stand on what is good and what is bad.

The US Power Industry fights to keep polluting using coal.

The Oil Industry fights to not get in trouble for abusive practices in 3rd world countries.

The US Chamber of Commerce fights against Universal healthcare, anything that taxes or impedes business even if business is killing people or stealing etc.

The US Natural Gas industry is fighting States to be allowed to Hydrocrack for Gas even though it is polluting ground water.

The US Coal industry is fighting to allow mountain top removal and against rules punishing it for destroying rivers in parts of the US.

People? or the whole Industry?

Not sure my views I pose this to the group.

3 years 10 months ago

Hi Howie,

I see your point, mate, but I’d say it still comes back to the people at the end of the day.

The examples you mention are still governed by what people are doing, based on either personal agendas or financial interests.

Get good people in – good, ethical people – and no matter the industry, it will become good as a result.

Howie at Sky Pulse Media
3 years 10 months ago

I think the problem is profit maybe? How many of us have ever had to choose between big money and ethics. Very few of us. and I think the people who work in industries if they get paid enough don’t care.

PR though is different. It is like Advertising and Marketing. I want to blame clients for hiring the bad agencies and people who don’t perform or do a disservice. But they seem so confused at what performing and good service means that there is a gaping hole for people to walk into the bank vault and out with the money.

3 years 10 months ago

Oh for sure, mate – that’s the litmus test right there. I’ve seen many people change when the greenback is involved (and my last blog post about sheep refers to many of them…) ๐Ÿ˜‰

Howie at Sky Pulse Media
3 years 10 months ago

You and Gini are so much more tactful in your prose. I remember the sheep prose. I an upped them to little furry rodents!

ExapatDoctorMom
3 years 10 months ago

So true Danny that it is not a whole industry and a shame for the few that gives our respective fields a bad name!

Happy Father’s Day My Friend!
Rajka

3 years 10 months ago

Thanks, Rajka – hope you’re having a great one if celebrating somewhere too. :)

Davina K. Brewer
3 years 10 months ago

WORD.

I so want to make that my one-word comment, can’t quite hit ‘post’ Danny. I’m over the generalizations and blanket accusations (like Marcus). Sure the ‘industry’ (its educators, leaders, associations) has its role to play, but then the industry is led by people too. Smart people, good people who as you say work their asses off, doing their best to counter the bad. FWIW.

Lisa Gerber
3 years 10 months ago

You totally should have left it at that. (not that the rest of the comment sucked. it didn’t. i swear. i’m not saying it sucked!! LOL)

I did however, want to say that you crack me up. :)

Davina K. Brewer
3 years 10 months ago

My mouse hovered over the send for a few seconds.. maybe next time. ๐Ÿ˜‰

3 years 10 months ago

You can leave WORD if you like, miss – maybe we could start a word association game where we complete a sentence using a word each? ๐Ÿ˜‰

Davina K. Brewer
3 years 10 months ago

That could be quite entertaining .. esp. with this smart and fun crowd. :-)

Mimi Meredith
3 years 10 months ago

I think Word sums it up perfectly. JMO! And I’m just pretty happy with that NetLingo link you provided…

Davina K. Brewer
3 years 10 months ago

The NetLingo is a nice cheat sheet… works when you’re trying to shorten a tweet.

Marcus Sheridan-The Sales Lion
3 years 10 months ago

Exceptional point Danny, exceptionally well made.

I always get rather frustrated when I hear blanket statements, as so many have a bad habit of judging the whole just because of the individual–a dumb move.

It’s not just business either, it’s religion, occupations, etc, etc, etc.

Lovin the passion brother.

Marcus

3 years 10 months ago

That’s a great point about religion, mate. I recall when 9/11 happened and the backlash against Muslims worldwide. Um… what?

Would we tar the Japanese or Germans because of of some of their ancestors did in the wars? Heck, the Allied Forces have committed plenty of war crimes, but do we tar all soldiers as murderers?

Dangerous thing, generalization – cheers, sir!

Robert
3 years 10 months ago

Very true! Unfortunately some industries have more asshats than others, but it doesn’t mean everyone needs to be tarred with the same brush, that’s just a silly generalisation.

3 years 10 months ago

Exactly Robert. It’s like saying the tech industry is full of arrogant egomaniacs just because Michael Arrington is in it… ๐Ÿ˜‰

jayme soulati
3 years 10 months ago

How do I love thee, let me count the ways. Fab. Just FAB.

3 years 10 months ago

Thanks, miss – it’s more of a call to recognize people like you as opposed to asshats like, well, we know our fair share. ๐Ÿ˜‰

Keith Davis
3 years 10 months ago

Yes… all down to people.
Same in every industry not just the PR industry.

Maybe we need to keep the industry and get rid of the people.

Just a minute, I think I’ve got that wrong….

3 years 10 months ago

Haha, I think you and Jay Dolan have been eating the same cookies, Keith. ๐Ÿ˜‰

Jay Dolan
3 years 10 months ago

This is what they call “thought leadership.”

Danny @ Firepole Marketing
3 years 10 months ago

Yes. Truer words were never spoken. Amen. :)

Elena Patrice
3 years 10 months ago

I’m with Danny … double, double “Amen”! ๐Ÿ˜‰

Justin March
3 years 10 months ago

Spot on Danny every Industry has an Asshat or two.

I think that whats really interesting with PR is that almost every online metod of marketing that you could mention is essentially morphing into something thats more like PR.

If you read the Google Guidelines the only way to perform white hat SEO especially in terms of link building is to think in terms of a PR campaign.

3 years 10 months ago

Great point, Justin. I’m not even sure there is anything as clear cut as just PR, anymore – like you say, it’s really a much bigger entity that covers a bigger spectrum.

Maybe the asshats that stick to bad PR will just get swallowed up? ๐Ÿ˜‰

Rick Rice
3 years 10 months ago

Danny,

I’ll completely agree that the mistakes, big and small, are made by people and not the industry. But, as someone who has been in PR for over 3 decades, I do think the industry needs to do a much better in education and training. It also would be nice if the ‘industry’ could actually enforce ethical standards, but that isn’t going to happen so I’ll move on.

The other problem is that you get what you pay / compensate for… As long as the industry practice focuses on things like media coverage to justify the bill and evaluate the agency for retention and people for promotions we’re going to keep getting this crap. Better measurement and the industry accepting responsibility for real results – not just things like coverage – would go a very long way toward improving how people do PR.

I’ll stop now. Cheers, Mate!

3 years 10 months ago

Hey there Rick,

Completely agree with you, mate. It’s why I don’t put a lot of stock into organizations like the PRSA.

Yes, they have their Code of Ethics in place, but it’s really just for their members. What PR needs (and social media, to be fair) is something like the Advertising Standards Agency in the U.K., or something similar, that affects all advertisers.

Until you have a governing body with full powers, you’re always going to have the problems we currently have, and the perception of PR as a whole.

Hey ho…

Keith Trivitt
3 years 10 months ago

Danny – In my previous comment, I praised your ability to stand up for PR without launching into a pointless rant. I have to raise a couple of issues with this comment, thought:
1. The UK’s Advertising Standards Agency works well because it monitors two industries (advertising and online marketing) that are highly regulated in the UK, just as they are (for the most part) in the US. In the US, however, public relations and communications from businesses enjoy broad First Amendment protections (see: last year’s Supreme Court ruling in the Citizen’s United case). Moreover, our industry is almost completely unregulated in the US. Therefore, it would be quite difficult โ€” and prohibitively expensive โ€” for PRSA to try to regulate or govern the PR industry in the U.S.
Even if we wanted to do so, legally, we couldnโ€™t. We have no legal standing to govern the industry, as again, PR is unregulated in the U.S., which is where PRSA has its legal standing. We believe it is far more valuable to our members โ€” and to the broader profession โ€” to focus on educating the value of ethical communications, versus spending thousands of dollars and volunteer and staff time on trying to govern and prosecute unethical offenses in which we would have little, if any, legal standing to do so.
We have a page on our website that explains why PRSA no longer enforces its Code of Ethics: http://ow.ly/5lZaa
2. I think itโ€™s a little unfair to try to lay all of the PR industryโ€™s problems on the shoulders of PRSA. Certainly, we have broad international standing and with 32,000 members, we represent the most in the profession. But as I noted above, in many cases, there are issues that are either out of our jurisdiction or outside of the scope of what our members have asked us to focus on.

And for the most part, our members want us to focus on educating the value of ethical communications. There is very, very little impetus among our members to revert back to the time when we did try to enforce the PRSA Code of Ethics (from 1950-2000). It simply was not a tenable situation, and wasted valuable resources on what could have been spent helping PR pros, along with the business community and other relevant parties, better understand the value and role of ethical communications.

I know weโ€™ve had this discussion before, and you and I congenially disagree on some of the points. Hopefully, we can agree that there is absolutely a need for stringent ethical standards in PR, and that we all play a role in ensuring each of us stands up for that and does our part to ensure work is as ethical as possible.

Keith Trivitt
Associate Director of PR
PRSA

Rick Rice
3 years 10 months ago

Keith,

Since I pretty much started this, let me jump back in here. As I said originally, enforcing ethics isnโ€™t going to happen in PR. I respect PRSA and its education efforts but, frankly, it isnโ€™t enough.

Full disclosure, I am not a PRSA member and havenโ€™t been since I left college in 1976. I never had enough hours in the day or any compelling reason. Nobody ever asked me if I had an APR, even when I was running big chunks of business for global agencies. The link to the non-enforcement page just increases my belief we need new and better ways to improve the performance of our people and the image of our industry.

Frankly, it is probably the values of agency leaders we need to look at to some extent, but this is missing my bigger pointโ€ฆ

The PR agency business model is broken โ€“ it relies on one thing โ€“ selling hours. And, the most profitable hours at any PR agency are those billed by the lowest paid staff. We can barely afford to train them because of the utilization rates we need to stay profitable.

Iโ€™ve sat through countless management meetings discussing how to get paid for value and expertise to improve profitability. The problem has always been an unwillingness to actually measure it (including clients not willing to pay to measure), stand behind it and take a risk on getting paid for delivering.

I donโ€™t think Danny laid all the industryโ€™s problems on PRSA in the least. He simply said, and youโ€™ve agreed, that an unenforceable code of ethics isnโ€™t going to solve these issues. I totally agree. Keep doing what youโ€™re doing, because education is all we can currently do, but the business model needs an adjustment to fix more of this. And, yes, the same is true for what business models I see in social media.

Sorry, Danny โ€“ rant over!

3 years 10 months ago

Hi Keith,

I completely agree, mate, and my reply to Rick wasn’t meant as an “attack” on the PRSA specifically (one of the reasons I added the “social media needs it too” addendum). If my reply came across wrong, I apologize.

To your point, though, it’s one of the reasons (for me) that organizations like yours – and the Canadian equivalent, and others around the globe – maybe don’t get taken as seriously as most would love them to be.

Sure, there’s costs involved in regulating an industry – but can you really put a price on something when it could mean the difference between a client going out of business because of bad ethics from their PR agency?

It’s why I firmly believe that there needs to be an enforced regulator with mandatory membership. Otherwise we’ll still be having this same conversation in 10 years time, sadly.

Nancy Davis
3 years 10 months ago

Hi Danny,

I agree, Every industry has idiots. No one is perfect, but it is so easy to make a mistake and “act out” on Twitter. I do not take that chance. Too much is at stake reputation wise.

Trust is the hardest thing to obtain and the easiest to lose. If I think for one second that I can tweet something inappropriate I am sadly mistaken.

All industries have stupid people and do stupid things. Let the one who lives in a glass house throw the first stone. :)

3 years 10 months ago

Hi Nancy,

That’s one of the things that really stand out at times. For a company that’s paid to “do public better”, there sure seems to be a lot of mess-ups in public… ๐Ÿ˜‰

Jay Dolan
3 years 10 months ago

Solution – get rid of the people. Then all of these indutries will be perfect.

Davina K. Brewer
3 years 10 months ago

Hat tip.

Marcus Sheridan-The Sales Lion
3 years 10 months ago

Hahaha Jay, well said. ๐Ÿ˜‰