20 reasons why PR doesn’t work

I work with PR firms, have a lot of friends in the PR industry, and have spoken at PR conferences. By no means is this a PR bash, but rather a springboard to become more relevant. I’m sure many will agree and disagree.

Reasons #1-10: Marketing guru Guy Kawasaki rips into the top 10 reasons why PR doesn’t work. He primarily suggests that there’s a mis-match in client vendor relationships, and lack of understanding or communication. In some cases he suggests that the client is at fault as much as the agency or firm.

Reasons #11-16: The Master of 500 hats Dave McClure goes on a rave/rant on why PR folks don’t get it –another 6 reasons. While I’ve spoken at PR conferences, I’ve never had formal training it, don’t speak the same language, I find it odd that Dave says I’m in PR.

Here’s a few more from me:

#17 Diaglogue vs Monologue is not fully understood
I believe that markets are two way conversations, not message throwing. As dialogue happens, communities form, and trust (or dis-trust) forms.

#18 Marketing is about storytelling, not raw facts on the Press Release
While certainly related to the above, marketing (and communications) is not just facts, (the when, what, and where) to telling a story, engaging the community and being ‘human’.

#19 Including the community in the event and message
On countless events that I’ve been to, PR firms have forgotten to welcome or invite influentials that will help ‘dialogue’ or ‘storytell’ the event using social media. While it often makes sense to invite the mainstream press and media, don’t forget that customers are now playing the role of media, as well as analytst. I got beat up pretty bad when I asked the question: “Who should you trust more, a paid analyst or a customer blogger”

#20 Lack of Awareness: More than one group in the company does Public Relations
PR is no longer limited to the PR firm or corporate communications. There are countless groups and individuals that will communiate, with the marketplace. If you don’t know what I’m talking about, it’s important to understand Brian Oberkirch’s Edgeworks concept.

Carry this forward, add your own from your own blog and link here. I can’t wait to hear what Shel has to say.

  • jeremiah –

    you’re not really a PR person, but you do play one on the web 😉

    – dmc

  • talk to my agent

  • Jeremiah, great stuff. I think the problem here is in the semantics of the headlines. These posts – namely yours and Guy’s – are not about why PR doesn’t work. They’re reasons why you’re PR may be ineffective. I think there’s general agreement that PR done right does work, just like TV commercials, direct mail, billboards, and banner ads work if done properly. Some great ideas here – couldn’t resist the nit though.

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  • Toward your 20th point and Dave McClure’s flip flop as to whether you are one of them or not: could someone please define the term “public relations.” I think every person in business needs to have relationships with members of their communities. You are superb at having those public relationships. The problem with so many alleged “PR Practitioners,”is they are really working on client relationships or maybe even press relationships, but it seems to me the field is really about something very different. You understand communities better than almost any traditional PR practitioner I know. So I guess you are my kind of PR guy.

  • Shel mentions the crucial point here: What is your (Guy’, Dave’s, and – especially – Jeremiah’s) definition of public relations. Having relationships with member of your community doesn’t make you a pr person (let alone an expert). A cop on the beat needs to have relationships with members of his/her community as well, but that doesn’t make him/her a pr practitioner.

  • PR is so much more than what you describe here, Young Grasshoppa. Many PR professionals are stuck in the “old model” of PR and you so asutely notice. However, many more are using much more progressive techniques than the ones you list in your post.

    However, many aspects of good public relations practice are not affected by the latest craze in media relations. The principles of honesty, transparency and building a store of goodwill with customers are all pillars of the profession. A trained public relations professional can provide all of those aspects to a business and its management team.

  • This conversation is spreading throughout the PR blogger network, interesting.

    I’m not trying to piss anyone off, but make things better. Please read what I wrote above carefully.

    Oh, and I speak from experience, I’m not just pulling this out of the air.

    -Young Grasshoppa

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  • Great addition to the conversation, Jeremiah. “Public relations,” done right, is nothing more than forming relationships *with people.* As long as we separate our “PR” function from our operations function, our PR is going to suck. When we make relationships with people an important, integrated part of what we do in our jobs, we are engaging in real, effective PR. (This is why blogs, for example, make such great PR tools. They help us integrate our relationship function into our work more efficiently than ever.)

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  • Rick Sandlas

    Kawasaki’s comments are gold. I worked for one of the first progressive tech performance based PR firms in the country. All of my biggest hurdles to client satisfaction and real impact for their business’s could always be tracked back to the 10 he mentioned. After a decade in the industry I always thought PR school for leading edge marketing dummies would be the best foundation on which to build a tech PR firm.

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  • Hasan

    I am sorry I can not give preference to the reasons u provided.

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