7 deadly sins of PR

A public relations executive shares the industry’s top transgressions. Do you agree with his take?


Editor’s note: Last week, sister site PR Daily hosted its PR Best Practices Conference at the Newseum in Washington, D.C. One of the presenters, MWW Senior Vice President Joe Cohen, shared with us his list of the public relations industry’s seven deadly sins:

1. Thinking like a journalist, but not as a marketer

PR practitioners need to understand both mindsets and strike a balance when delivering messages.

2. Hating math

We must no longer utter phrases such as, “I went into PR because I’m bad at math.” Saying that hurts our credibility. In today’s business environment, measurement, analytics, and the ability to quantify results are essential.

3. Fearing to admit failure

We must have the confidence to admit failure, but we can never accept it. We can’t be afraid to acknowledge internally when programs are failing and be ready to recalibrate when necessary.

4. Failing to measure

Though it’s true that measuring public relations versus advertising is comparing apples and oranges, PR can be measured. For our industry to be viewed on par with the other disciplines, we must be able to quantify our work. Social media has made it possible to do so in a cost-effective manner. The Barcelona Principles’ metrics framework is a great resource for measurement approaches.

5. Chasing the shiny objects

For every Pinterest and Twitter, there is a MySpace or Second Life—social networks that wither and die or fail to take flight. At times, we will need to take big bets, but we must make them smart wagers backed by research and analytics.

6. Suffering from an inferiority complex

PR has a tendency to view itself as a second-tier discipline behind advertising and marketing. In today’s media environment, there is a unique opportunity for PR to lead. To do so, we must educate ourselves on the other disciplines and understand the larger landscape.

7. Getting a (cheap) thrill from deadline pressure

Many PR pros pride themselves on their ability to pull last-minute miracles out of their hats. When working within a larger marketing framework this is untenable—we must plan ahead (as best we can) and align our efforts with the other disciplines so that PR doesn’t live in a silo.

Joe Cohen is senior vice president at MWW Group, one of the five largest independent PR firms worldwide.

Topics: PR

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