A PR pro’s 10 observations about ‘real-world PR’

Most people aren’t on social media 24/7 and measurement isn’t mainstream yet. Are you nodding in agreement? You should be.


It’s been almost six months since I moved back into the “big agency” world. I’ve been busy and tired (oh, so tired!), and I’ve realized a few things as I continue to settle into my new life.

Based on my completely unscientific observations of the myriad people I’ve come into contact with on a semi-regular basis, here they are:

1. Real people don’t “do” social media like we do.

By “we,” I mean people like you and I (or at least, like I used to be) who are on social media all the time.

Most people couldn’t give two hoots about the latest app (though they do care about the iPhone 5), they don’t know who Chris Brogan is, and they mostly think bloggers are pompous asses.

2. The PR world is full of smart people who aren’t “out there.”

So, if they’re not “out there”—either by blogging, tweeting up a storm, or engaging in similar online activity—does that mean we should discount them simply because we don’t see them?

3. There are also many idiots.

They are in social media, in agencies, and outside of agencies. And sometimes they’re at fairly senior levels.

However, this is true pretty much anywhere and in every industry. I just happen to come across them in PR, so I guess that sticks with me.

4. The people who straddle traditional and new PR are fairly few and far between.

Why is this? Why aren’t there more?

5. Most bloggers blog too much.

People who are not consultants—and that’s most people—couldn’t care less if you publish your blog daily. They’re far more concerned with the latest episode of “Keeping Up with the Kardashians.” So really, it’s up to you skip a day or two. The world won’t come crashing down if you take the weekend off.

6. Smart PR measurement has a long way to go until it’s mainstream.

7. Traditional media relations is still very important in most agencies, and to most clients.

8. Skills in areas such as video editing and content marketing are a huge asset.

9. If you don’t know how to do a SWOT analysis, you better learn.

10. It takes a lot to build, and be part of, a tribe.

And while one’s co-workers, neighbors, etc. can become one’s tribe, they are not automatically part of it. But if you give them the chance, they will join.

And to my tribe—thank you.

Shonali Burke is vice president of digital media and marketing at MSL Washington, D.C., founder of the popular #measurePR Twitter chat, and an adjunct faculty member at Johns Hopkins University’s M.A. in Communication program. A version of this article first appeared on Waxing UnLyrical.

Topics: PR

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