Just over a year ago, in one of my very first posts, I talked about the newly public sport of bunny bashing. This is not a case of animal cruelty but rather the new found fashion for bloggers and blogging journalists to let rip when they felt that they had encountered yet another example of poor public relation skills in action. I’m fairly sure that as long as there has been both hacks and flacks, that hacks have complained about incompetent PRs, it’s just that now it happens far more publicly. At the time I noted that such attacks were cyclical in nature and I’m rather disheartened to be proved right as another Twitter storm developed at the end of last week over an inept voicemail left for Sally Whittle by a PR.
I should make it clear that I am not defending the actions of those who spam bloggers and journalists with poor targeted, mail merged, generic emails. Nor am I to excuse calling a freelancers one month after an article appears to castigate them for not mentioning a client. Rather I am here to ask what is the point in naming and shaming the hapless transgressor, which Sally to her credit has refused to do, and is the very same point I made last time round.
I know that the PR profession has become sloppy because when you upset a print or broadcast journalist, they worst they could do is swear at you or complain to your boss. The former wasn’t that frequent and the latter hardly happened either. Now of course irate bloggers get to name and shame. Which is great, they get to vent their frustration and it ensures that the PR in question will do a better job next time.
Oh right it doesn’t.
I also explained why I’m against the PR Fail and PR Win blogs that collate the good, bad and ugly of the PR world. They are still going strong, though amazingly there is far more content on PRFail than PRWIN, even though much of what has been tagged as fail, often has little to do with a companies PR function.
So what can we do as profession to stop annoying those that we rely on in symbiotic/parasitic nature? Stop employing idiots is the call from one commentator on Sally’s original post, which is a great idea but again who actually sets out to hire an idiot? More training, more guidance from the industry bodies like the PRCA or CIPR? Or am I wrong and would the threat of your incompetence going public be just the thing to make PR people consider their actions a little more thoroughly?