Advertising Public Relations

On being 'challenging' to PR people…

Some people have been having trouble working out why I’ve got so worked-up about this whole public relations thing. Perhaps this quote from a Flickr user called keeneypr on the thread about PR posted overnight will help explain to you why I’m so angry about the whole thing:

Our job is to get even “challenging” people like you to write, say and/or do what our clients and companies want — of your own volition — and not even realize that you’re doing it. If you are telling us that you only want information from people whose views you like and trust, then we’ll just reach you through them and you’ll never be the wiser.

I could find a dozen similar quotes by people like him from the conversations that I’ve been having over the last few months with PR people. To be honest, I find it sickening. That they would seek to use me as a device to further their aims makes me even more unhappy.

10 replies on “On being 'challenging' to PR people…”

Well, that may be their job; whether it is actually an achievable job is quite another matter. The world is full of PR people with inflated senses of their own abilities, and it is also full of PR people who get mugged on the internet and come out far worse off than before. I don’t think that in your case, for instance, it is exactly working, unless somebody is trying to promote a book about how awful the PR industry is.

What’s the problem Tom, we are all just numbers aren’t we? Merely targets to convert to meet stats…
As for “you only want information from people whose views you like and trust” well surely that automatically excludes anyone who would take the PR shilling without letting anyone know. But we KNOW who those people are, so we don’t trust their views so… again, PR loses??
Is it really that simple?

“If you want a picture of the future, imagine a boot stamping on a human face – forever.” And, apparently, selling you toothpaste/cars/beer/iPhones while it’s at it. Lovely.
Ever read “All the President’s Men?” That PR quote could have come straight out of the mouth of Haldeman or Clawson, from what I remember of their attitude towards the press.

Have you considered stringing these people along the way some people string along spammers? (E.g. tell them you’d be happy to publish their press release, but first you need a photo of them holding a sign saying “this is a brothel” with their socks on their hands or something suitably entertaining.)
P.S. Are you aware your old non-OpenID comment form still displays in browsers with JavaScript off? It’s a bit confusing.

As I said at the Grauniad thread, the particularly, um, motivated PR types now see you as their Mount Everest, their South Pole, their source of the Nile.
Hammersley has raised an eyebrow at Bill Hicks quotations, but you’ve now been updated in many PR databases as ‘anti-marketing market’ or ‘righteous indignation market’.
So, it’s a matter of time before the most prickish in that sector announce that they’ve ‘gotcha!’ over some link you post or some topic you discuss. Which, I’d guess, won’t make you a happy bunny.
I’d be tempted by Jessica or Sue’s ideas: find an easy way to create an online dump for PR junk email, ideally one that has enough google-juice to undermine any positive effects of being publicised. You want publicity? Well, here it is.

ye gods, that PR person sounds insane.
I’ve had a lot of luck hitting reply and asking them to remove me from their PR lists. If I get a second PR email, I flame them hard in a followup. If they still don’t give up, I make a filter that sends them to the trash and any email featuring their domain.
You can almost write a simple email rule to banish them all. Every URL of an annoying PR person seems to end in “” like “” or
“”. I’m *this* close to simply sending anything ending in in the from address to the trash.

I think PR people are fundamentally understanding their job. Their job is to Relate to the Public, i.e. provide information when requested. As soon as they started trying to give information to people who hadn’t requested it yet, they simply became Marketing — one-on-one, unsolicited marketing.
PR is spam.

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