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Not All PR is Good PR

Good Against Bad
This is a post by PR columnist, Alison Kenney.

Want to know reporters’ pet peeves about working with PR people?


Me neither!

But attend any panel session that includes members of the media and the question ALWAYS comes up.

At first the reporter will get a look on his or her face like, “oh, wow, where do I begin?” Then they’ll start off answering the question in a nice way, “well, it’s helpful if the PR person who is contacting me has a relationship with me, or has maybe even read my work and can reference that in the pitch.” But then they get warmed up and watch out! Soon you’ll all be chuckling over the crazy things PR people do when they are pitching stories.

Why do we do this to ourselves?

Most reporters don’t start out spouting off about how annoying PR people are (notice I said “most”) – it’s the PR people who ask them this question. I suppose we ask it because we have an inner desire to do better, or maybe it’s to ingratiate ourselves to the media. I also suppose it’s a PR rite of passage of sorts in which every junior PR person must be exposed to hearing first-hand the rantings of the “other side” and have their blinders removed, so to speak.

But it seems to me that the answers are always astoundingly basic and are only exposing the mistakes of moronic individuals or of a few bad apples.

The two annoyances that come up most frequently when the media is asked this question have to do with follow up calls (either calling when reporters are on deadline or following up excessively) and receiving pitches that are completely off the mark. So do your homework, folks, and understand who you’re pitching and their position with the media outlet, as well as how they work, including their deadlines.

Are we that masochistic?

Are PR pros using their voyeuristic gene to focus on all the bad examples in the industry? How else to explain the popular and authoritative Bad Pitch Blog? Or the site’s efforts, as well as Gawker’s, to “improve the PR industry through ridicule”?  Or the viral path that PR screw-ups have taken recently, such as when a BrandLink VP failed miserably in pitching the Bloggess?

It’s gotten to the point that the industry has started debating the value of publicly outing bad pitches, like Arik Hanson does in his post, Are We Helping or Hurting by Blogging About PR Flameouts?

This doesn’t happen in other industries

Can you imagine a group of lawyers asking a judge about what courtroom behavior is the most vexing? Or scientists asking the FDA for tips on speeding up drug approvals?

Of course there’s a difference between “peeving” someone and royally mucking up a brand’s reputation. In any industry, the latter could cost you your job. But, in our industry, the consensus seems to be that there’s value in talking about what not to do.

Do you agree? Disagree?

Alison Kenney an independent PR practitioner with more than 15 years of PR consulting experience. She is based on Boston’s North Shore and has worked with organizations in the technology, professional services and consumer industries. She writes a bi-monthly PR column on You can find her at Learn more about Alison Kenney.


Recruiter Pet Peeves

This month, Tom Musbach, asked the group of staffing professionals who participate in the Yahoo! HotJobs monthly feature, Recruiter Roundtable, about their biggest pet peeve about job seekers today .

The answers revolve around the same theme - lack of preparedness and a poorly targeted job search.

Here's what the recruiters have to say.

The Price of 'Perfection'

My biggest pet peeve is perfect candidates. They only had successes, are perfect and can't see any improvement to make on themselves -- except maybe to "work a little less." People who are too insecure to admit their shortcomings or even their mistakes make me feel that they lack good emotional intelligence. In all the reference checks we reviewed at Checkster, none were 100% positive, so be realistic. If not, you will be seen as either not daring enough to perform difficult things, or stuck in a myopic belief that you are perfect.
-- Yves Lermusi, CEO, Checkster

Clueless Candidates

As a recruiter, there have been countless times when job seekers have asked, "What position is this for?" Job seekers shouldn't just apply to any job. They need to spend their time effectively finding jobs that are a match for their skills and interest.
-- Nga Nguyen, Technology & Operations Group Recruiter at Wells Fargo

Short-Cut Introductions

With more people looking for work in today's economy, I've been seeing an increase in what I call "lazy introductions" come across my desk. It goes something like this: "I'm writing you to introduce myself. I live in New York and I'm looking for a job," and in the signature is a link to a LinkedIn profile or possibly a resume. A brief introduction should come with a background, highlights, and reason for connecting. A job search is a job in itself and requires some personalization and effort for each and every introduction.
-- Lindsay Olson, partner, Paradigm Staffing

Can't Connect the Dots?

My biggest pet peeve is receiving resumes or applications that describe background and work experience wholly unrelated to the position being applied for. Also there is either no supporting material or a generic cover letter that fails to connect the dots between what's on the application and what's in the posted job listing.
-- Noah Apodaca, lead recruiter for staff at the University of California, Irvine

Don't Go Generic

Job seekers hurt their own cause when they don't focus on specific ways they can help potential employers and instead simply mass distribute their resume. Individuals need to show hiring managers what they can do for the organization, not the reverse. Thoroughly research companies where you want to apply, customize your resume and cover letter for each opportunity, and in your communications with employers highlight your accomplishments and skills that demonstrate how you can positively impact the firm's bottom line.
-- DeLynn Senna, executive director of North American permanent placement services, Robert Half International

Photo credit: Zarprey

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