PRSA exec: Drop ‘hit’ from the PR vocabulary

The term makes PR pros seem like shallow used car salesmen. Do you agree?

I love PR. I really do. But as much as I enjoy working in PR, there are some parts of the business that worry me. One of these areas is how some PR pros approach their jobs like salespeople.

“Hey journalist, buy into this idea now! You have to jump on this now, because I’m going to go after the next person I can find who will listen to my spin!”

Or my personal favorite: “You owe me big for this hit.”

Do these sound like phrases you would say outside the workplace, to a friend or acquaintance, or even someone you see passing by? Probably not. Why do we break out these trite phrases, not only with reporters and bloggers, but with our colleagues? We should have their backs.

Can we please stop the salesman mentality and have compassion for our colleagues and those we deal with on a daily basis?

Say a colleague helps you land a big interview for a client. Ever since then she keeps “gently” reminding you that you owe her. You appreciated the assistance, but should she continue to hold it over your head? I don’t think so.

We’re in this business to connect our clients with key influencers and audiences. Since when did we get into PR to sell a 1985 Oldsmobile Cutlass Supreme for a 10 percent commission?

I propose we drop the word “hit” from our PR vocabulary.

This would go a long way in debunking the public’s view that we’re all hucksters out to sell the next great concept. “Hit” is an awful jargon term that often offends reporters and, worse, makes us seem like shallow used car salesmen.

If we want to change the public’s perception of our business and actually look, act and feel like we’re part of an industry that helps others, let’s use a new word or phrase, like “make a connection.” I know that’s corny, but it’s true and doesn’t make us sound like shallow schleps who want to propel our personal agendas.

Why do you think the salesman mentality sometimes permeates PR? Should we be in the industry for our agencies and organizations, or for our personal gain?

Keith Trivitt is the associate director of public relations for the Public Relations Society of America. A version of this article first appeared on

Topics: PR

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