A post by John Biggs on TechCrunch frames (some) startup owners as maniacs - threatening to kill people, sending constant spam emails, all the like. This can apply to PR people, too, but a lot of them won't take it seriously. In fact, some of them will get strange levels of umbrage when you suggest that they should take themselves less seriously, and that what they're doing is not a beautiful symphony and that any pain you find is because you're just not that good.
For example, saying that you should have "persistence and dedication into developing your skills and cultivating media relationships" is an example of people taking our industry too seriously. Or posting on a PR blog at all that someone is ignorant because they talked about a consistent experience that lots and lots of people have relayed to me happens all the time is taking our industry too seriously.
What I'm saying is that there's this bizarre anti-noise out there where PR people are desperate to prove that our industry is not decayed and painful from the top down. In fact, the people that I find are the least chill in PR - the ones that get the angriest, the ones that get the most annoyed, the ones that get the most ridiculously self-congratulatory and pompous about how important their jobs and their industry are are supervisors, managers, directors and those as far from the process as possible.
For example, those who might suggest "pick[ing] up the phone and spend[ing] the time getting to know a reporter on a more personal level."
I can't think of any reporter - in any industry of PR that I've worked with (fashion, medicine, education, technology, startups, advertising) that would appreciate a phone-call from someone they've never met. The aforementioned Sascha Segan is the only person I've ever blind-called who has ever taken more than a minute on the phone, and I'll be damned if he remembers the call - nevertheless, he was very nice.
However, the legions of randoms I've been told MUST BE CALLED (caps lock ad verbatim from past emails) have mostly either hung up on me, told me not to call or in one case told me to fuck off. Assignment desks? Nope. Don't call them. Reporters in general? Don't call them. They don't want to be called. In fact, they want to be left alone as much as humanely possible.
And media skills and relationships being "cultivated" as if they're plants - semi-dead vessels for our disgusting PR words - is a construct of sheer evil that makes it sound as if you're calling them up and slowly but surely manipulating them into writing more.
You know you could just say 'make friends with them or learn about what they write about and maybe they'll come call you.'
But NO. We must be SERIOUS in PR. This is a VERY SERIOUS industry and if you do not CULTIVATE your RELATIONSHIPS you are BAD. How about you be honest and up front about what you're doing.
How about you make friends with reporters or at least just learn what they want, and then you send them things in the hopes that they'll write about it. The honest truth is for the most part PR is trying to increase the likelihood that your email is read and the contents are written about.
There're varying levels of complexity behind preparation for said emails, but when it comes down to it that's what we're doing. The reason that a lot of managerial types add these layers is to try and make it seem as if there's a need for people to be ordered around. Maybe there is for very new, wet-behind-the-ears people, but as a whole just saying you do pitching on varying levels and making it sound artsy-fartsy is the very antithesis of chill. Maybe it's a rotting anxiety of being too far from the process to be necessary. This is not a science. This is not oil-drilling. This is not a nuclear reactor where you need to make sure that the guy cleaning it is cleaning it in a safe and careful way, and the other guy is moving it in the right way to do the science and also not kill everyone.
Yes, yes, I'm sure there're examples where there is a degree of campaign management where you have to say 'okay, on this date we have this coming,' but really is it that much more complex? If the managers and directors and ceos and such are pitching too, then that's great.
This probably doesn't count for gargantuan accounts where you truly have 400 different reporters, products and the like. But for the day-to-day Pr that makes up most of the industry, I feel that everyone just desperately wants to seem super-complex for fear that it'll either expose job their weakness or lack of personal pride in what they do. I don't think I'm doing rocket science, but I've got really good at writing words in emails that people read and sometimes write about, and as a result people pay me money enough that I can have nice chairs and feed my dog good dog food.
Or maybe I just need to chill out.