THINKPIECE: Pros behaving badly seem to be taking over the industry, and they make everyone’s job harder

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.

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

business etiquette.



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

prevalent.



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.



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