There’s some very ugly behavior going on out there, and as an agency principal, I’m alarmed. I’m referring to a growing lack of professional conduct, combined with overly aggressive media relations tactics used by some PR pros, especially when dealing with reporters in face-to-face situations at conferences and trade shows.
There’s some very ugly behavior going on out there, and as an
agency principal, I’m alarmed. I’m referring to a growing lack of
professional conduct, combined with overly aggressive media relations
tactics used by some PR pros, especially when dealing with reporters in
face-to-face situations at conferences and trade shows.
At a recent tech industry conference, I had the opportunity to witness
some disturbing behavior by PR people that sparked complaints from
reporters. While most of the PR representatives conducted themselves
professionally, far too many didn’t, which weakens the industry’s
credibility - in and out of the boardroom.
The lines that define the boundaries of professional behavior have not
only blurred - they’ve shifted in the wrong direction. It seems that
interrupting a reporter engaged in conversation, tugging on his
shirt-sleeve or even standing in line behind other ’media hungry’ pros
has become acceptable.
I’m sorry. It’s not.
Here’s one recent example. Our agency represents Upside Events, the
conference division of Upside Media. We secure media and industry
analyst attendance, manage the pressroom, provide on-site support to
reporters and ensure that Upside is featured properly in conference
stories. Serving these different audiences can be a juggling act, but it
also offers a glimpse behind the scenes.
At Upside’s Showcase conference recently, there were grumbles among
reporters about how aggressive some younger technology PR pros have
become, bordering on unprofessional demeanor and showing a lack of basic
Editors commented that the situation was getting out of control. Some
behavior was so outlandish that more than one editor expressed
reluctance to visit the product demonstration area because of the PR
’feeding frenzy’ taking place.
Here’s my take on why this ’no holds barred’ attitude has become so
Competition for media attention in the Internet and tech industries has
never been stronger - and it’s getting worse. The shortage of
experienced tech pros forces companies and firms to hire
less-experienced people who are overloaded with work and under extreme
pressure to deliver. An inexperienced staff doesn’t understand the value
of building strong media relationships.
What’s the solution? Perhaps better training and stronger supervision
would help. What I hope we’re witnessing here is a temporary blip rather
than a trend defining a new brand of PR, which would certainly make
everyone’s job harder.