Five PR Pet Peeves: Rolodex, Spaghetti, Spin, No Such Thing, and Taken Out of Context


I thought it might be fun or at the least a little cathartic to write about some of my “favorite” pet peeves regarding my given profession.

So, without further ado, I present to you – in no particular order – five of my all-time “please don’t say that” pet peeves:

#5: Client or prospect says, “I want to hire someone that has a good Rolodex” insinuating that the relationship we have precludes the story we are pitching.

Not so. This is a business and it is about creating the compelling story for the appropriate audience. The story is going to determine who we contact. These days with email, Twitter, Facebook, Skype, the phone, etc. it is easier than ever to reach the media. But reaching the media is one thing, providing them with a great story is something else. And that is how you build a relationship. Doesn’t matter how big my Rolodex is, if I don’t have the right story and the good PR person isn’t going to reach out to a reporter/producer just to reach out to them.  This leads me to another peeve of pets –

#4: Those who want to send the pitch out to everyone and see who picks it up.

Now this can be a client, account executive or anyone who isn’t interacting with the media. I call this the spaghetti theory (throw it on the wall and see what sticks) and it is one of the worst things you can do. The media get bombarded with pitches. It is our job to act as a gatekeeper for them in determining what pitch makes sense to the right media. Consistently sending out the wrong pitch to the wrong media will alienate your client and your credibility. I understand saying “no” to a client can be difficult, but managing expectations and explaining your rationale comes with the territory.

#3: Let’s spin that. Put a positive spin on that. Go do some PR on that.

Spinning something to me sounds like we aren’t telling the entire truth; holding something back. I hope that’s not what we do – – not sure I’d be able to look at myself in the mirror. Public relations is about getting all sides of the story out. You may not always agree, but a good public relations pro will illuminate a situation. We don’t lie, hold information or mislead.

#2: There’s no such thing as bad PR.

No. No. No. No. Not true. There is such a thing as news cycles and it has been shown that many societies can be forgiving (or somewhat forgetting). Really rather not be in a situation where how I react to something will dictate someone’s future. I could not disagree more with this. Or this –

#1: I didn’t say that. The reporter took what I said out of context.

Actually, odds are you did say that and the reporter just included what you said. Reporters don’t want to be called out for getting something wrong, not good career moves for them since they rely on being reputable. More often than not, those who have been “quoted out of context” did say it, but did not plan out what they were going to say. Before any interview, everyone should go through some form of media training, or – as I was taught – a Strategy For Answering Questions. Doing so will “amazingly” stop those “I didn’t say that” moments.

Surely you have your pet peeves (and don’t call me Shirley). What are yours? You agree with mine?


2 thoughts on “Five PR Pet Peeves: Rolodex, Spaghetti, Spin, No Such Thing, and Taken Out of Context

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