I HAVE MET THE ENEMY. AND HE IS US.5 years ago
So today is Friday. I was all psyched today. I'd go out and find another Happy Friday Video to post, it was going to be a chill, relaxing day.
Then yesterday, a good friend of mine, a senior reporter for one of the largest daily papers in the country, asks me to post a query to my Help Out A Reporter list. She was looking for people who have decided to scale back, or cut out all together, any upcoming summer leisure travel because of higher gas prices.
Simple enough query. I posted it last night, putting myself as the contact. I would forward all relevant responses.By noon today, I'd received 18 responses.
I'm so very sad to say that out of those 18 responses, 2 of them involved people who were putting off their summer travel because of higher gas prices.
Two out of 18.
Two responses were on topic. Two answered the reporter's query.
A few months ago, Chris Anderson over at Wired outed a bunch of flacks for pitching him irrelevant information. I was one of the few PR people who defended him for doing so.
Apparently, we simply haven't learned. And even worse, we don't show any signs that we're going to learn any time soon.
I'm embarassed to call myself a publicist. If these replies are any indication of what journalists have to put up with from PR people on a regular basis, then I apologize on behalf of an industry of which I'm embarassed to be a part.
In response to "Are you not traveling this summer because of higher gas prices," I was asked to forward to this reporter, in no particular order:
- a biography of a man who books corporate travel for his corporate clients.
- a story about how finding loose change counts for billions of dollars in "found" currency.
- six pitches on various hotels, spas, and resorts, all of which could "save you gas by being close,"
- several other pitches that weren't even close to target. Forget same ballpark - not even the same sport.
These responses cut across all types of agencies, from big to small, from multi-national to local. The pitches came in from assistant account executives to CEOs, and everyone in between.Is this what we consider doing our jobs nowadays? Are we so desperate for any kind of story that we pitch blind, hoping we'll land anything, no matter how anorexic of a connection there might be to what the reporter is looking for?
Is this what the agencies are teaching their employees to do?
If it is, reporters have every right to hate public relations professionals.
We're not doing our job.
At best, we're an industry that relies on hope, and not skill, on the off chance that we'll catch a break.
We've become an industry of posers, hoping that we'll get through another day without being exposed as a fraud.
I'm not talking about everyone. You know I'm not. But if the responses to this query were any indication, then I'm talking about 80% to 90% of our industry.
And do you want to work in an industry in which 90% of it is detested for being stupid and clueless?
There's one upside to this - and only one... If you are one of the 10% who actually get it, then you'l be beloved by reporters who can see the one bright star in an otherwise dank pile of steaming dung, and it won't be difficult for you in the slightest.
But that's if you're smart enough to be in that 10%.
The rest of us?
Two out of 18.
We should be ashamed of ourselves.