What’s Happened to PR? No More Unicorns and Rainbows

This post will likely anger a few people, and for that I am prepared. After all, this is a community I am devoted to, regardless of whether or not I agree with the practices I’ve been seeing lately.

But rather than continue with a laundry list of grievances myself and presumably countless other prospective job candidates, partners and customers have experienced or observed in traditional PR and marketing, I’ll just keep it short and sweet:

What’s happened to PR?

To speak quite plainly, it sucks.

Whatever happened to the art of professional courtesy or follow-up? Of gracing a job candidate or prospective partner, client with the decency of a simple yes, or no?

But nothing? I don’t care if you’re Edelman or an obscure firm out in Alaska, a newfangled response (positive or negative) is still better than leaving people hanging.

That’s just impolite.

More importantly, from a branding perspective, why give people reason to question or speculate? As Dan Zarrella discussed in yesterday’s Guinness-World record setting webinar The Science of Social Media:

“Don’t let information voids spread around your brand” (especially in a time of crises, but I’d argue anytime) … “Find out what they want to know and give them that info.”

None of these sentiments should be new to practitioners, nor anyone with proper business acumen.

Allow me the presumption of speaking for purportedly naive, overly-zealous job seekers, students and workers my age:

We’d just appreciate the courtesy of a response, especially when we’ve taken the time to write a cover-letter, send resumes and consult with those in our network about matching our skills to your position.

Perhaps we weren’t the right fit (clearly, since you promised to get back and never did). Perhaps we wonder: if this is the way a company treats people who are not even inside its doors or on its payroll, how is it treating those that are?

Where is the accountability that everyone whines about nowadays? Perhaps Gen XY’s passion is impatient, entitled, overbearing, yada yada — but at least we still dare to show it.

It’s about heart, and we’ve got a lot of it.

Where’s yours? If you’re waiting for us to stop, to relent, you’ve only added insult to injury by underestimating our resolve. In business and in life, what you don’t say often resonates more than what you do. (Classic omission paradox).

We will continue to show initiative and the nerve to call out the injustice of impotent and cynical leadership, regardless of where it’s taking place (and especially when it’s among our own).

Until there is change, people will continue to suffer. That does not exclude those who work hard. It does not exclude those who have earned degrees, internships, have families, mortgages, student debt…list goes on.

I’m not saying there aren’t brilliant PR and marketing firms out there. In fact, many tech-savvy firms are integrating, acquiring and growing exponentially. These firms know how to wow and delight their people, from the inside out.

These firms are the ones willing to lead by example, and advise others who are still attempting to do new things with outdated and irrelevant strategies, techniques and approaches.

Here’s hoping PR folks will learn now — before it’s too late.

What really grinds your gears about the state of PR and business (or political) leadership today? Would love to hear your thoughts on this.

RELATED LINKS

Gini Dietrich, Spin Sucks >> PR Pros: Stop Treating Bloggers Like Second-Class Media

Paul Roetzer, PR 20/20 >> Death of the Traditional Marketing Agency

Amber Naslund, Brass Tack Thinking >> 5 Reminders for Social Media Job Candidates

Pain is Life, Get Used to It: Know, Not Fear, That Someday You’re Going to Die

CLEVELAND – Ever have the kind of day where you’d rather stab yourself in the eye with a rusty spoon than listen to any more excuses, bullshit or equally infuriating negativity our insipid, mundane life has to offer? Then welcome. This is me at my most nihilistic.

Yes, I’ve been under the weather lately (honestly, I never get sick — but when I do it’s obscene. Ugh). So perhaps that’s part of the equation. But I’m not talking about sickness.

I’m talking about being sick and tired of being sick and tired. Life is cruel, indifferent, deaf. Sometimes you have to shout, cry out, stomp your feet. Whatever necessary to shake it off and move on. So I am. Via another rant.

I am SICK AND TIRED:

Of year after year after year of hearing NO from others, and especially an industry I love, an industry I have sacrificed countless hours, relationships, blood, sweat and tears for — only to continually be overlooked, disregarded, disappointed, jaded and patronized. Too smart. Too enthusiastic. Overqualified. Underqualified. Too young. Know-it-all. Entitled. Cocky.

Of Excuses

>’What have I done to deserve you?’ (relationships, breakups). So rich I can’t even comment further.

>’It’s tough out there… (others referring to the economy — to which I am unequivocally allergic and  intolerant. The economy does NOT determine our destiny. WE do)

>’It’s not your time yet’ (if not now, then when? If not you, then who?) And how is it everyone else seems to know what’s best for you?! Wish I was that lofty and special. When everything’s superlative, nothing is.

>’Everyone has to pay dues.’ No shit, Sherlock. I don’t care how old you are, age is just a number. I care about who you are and how you have lived, how you treat others. It’s called experience, integrity –character.  There are some who never amount to anything in life, never move beyond the maturity or mentality of a two-year-old.

Get over yourself.

When you’ve faced your mortality and pain like others do you might actually have something to say. Polarizing? Yes. This is me caring.

Of Clichés

‘There’s always a light at the end of the tunnel’ or ‘It’s all been done before.’  Profound, tell me more.

And most nauseating: Maybe you’re not trying hard enough. Seriously? What about those who say don’t try too hard, don’t care too much? Again, all too inane to further comment.

impressionism painting

Tell Me About It

Every f(expletive)-ing day, myself and countless others choose to get out of bed and face the same joke, the same lie:

A lie that says if you’re a first-generation degree holder in your family, you’ll break a cycle of financial stasis, income barrier. And not be wasting away in a part-time, minimum-wage job, isolated from loved ones, faces or places you call home and wandering a tired godforsaken place, people and cesspool of limitations, wondering how much longer until reprieve, some break that just might be deserved at some time or place in history.

A lie that says if you finance your own education, you’ll reap the benefits of easier transportation (a car perhaps), a better job and quality of life.

A lie that says you’ll be okay, because you know what it’s like to be on your own since 15, to have to fight and scrimp and scrape for everything you have and are. 

A lie that says if you work over 10 years in the same industry and graduate college, you’ll be able to work at least full-time.

A lie that says we reward and hire on the value of merit, not seniority or favoritism.

A lie that says if you are loving and compassionate and give more than you take, you will not suffer or endure continual pain, struggle or challenges. That everyone is capable of gratitude, heart and altruism.

A lie that says anyone cares about you more than you could care for yourself, that anyone is invested in your well-being, worth and safety more than you are.

Call it pride, but when it comes down to it, I expect absolutely nothing of or from others. No one owes you anything. No one will love, trust, respect or work for you the way you can, will and must. 

At the end of the day, the only one you have is YOU. Whether through tears of joy or despair, fits of fear or rage, remember it. Count on it.

And keep believing whatever delusions will move you until you reach the Truth of your heart, mind and body.

In the words of Rainer Maria Rilke: At the bottom no one in life can help anyone else in life. This one experiences over and over in every conflict and every perplexity: that one is alone. That isn’t as bad as it may first appear; and again it is the best thing in life that each should have everything in himself: his fate, his future, his whole expanse and world.