PR People, Please Know Your Worth

My husband walked into the kitchen this morning and asked me if people were ruder than normal, errrr, YES! 

After a few demanding emails from clients, he was pretty fed up with sharp tones, unreasonable demands, and a downright lack of manners. 

No, he isn’t a PR, he works in property, but this is something that seems to be coming up a lot at the moment for my clients, and now my husband, and it’s not right.
 
Anyone who knows me well will know I am a stickler for please and thank you, and I am the woman who says ‘THANK YOU’ loudly when I hold the door open for someone and they swan right by without even a smile. 
And, don’t even start me on letting people go ahead when you are driving, and not even a wave of thanks. 

However, when it comes to work, a lack of manners and common courtesy is a massive no no, so why do people think they can get away with it?
 
As an ex PR I worked with some delightful clients, amazing brands, and fabulous journalists.

I also had a client, early on in my London career, who would scream down the phone and me and the team, and that showed me how not to be when I, later on, managed PR teams across EMEA, not that I would have ever dreamt of behaving that way.  

I had an interview where I didn’t get the job because I wasn’t aggressive enough. 

One client demanded I phone a contact to ask him why her product only got a silver, not gold, award! 

This was a long time ago, and yes, we are in the middle of a pandemic, right now, but more and more I am hearing that PR people, like my husband, aren’t being treated well by clients, and that isn’t right.  

It makes me see that in this industry it seems OK, even accepted, that there will be those clients who feel that because they pay you, they can treat you however they like, and that’s wrong. 

I am not just talking about big names, but across the board, there was, and I think still is a notion, that as their PR, you are at their beck and call, even if they are paying you the smallest of retainers. 

Emails in the evening, Whatsapp messages late at night, demands to be Forbes even when there wasn’t a story insight, and even question how a journalist wrote about them or described their product. 

Err, it’s PR not advertising. 

This is not how conducive, professional relationships work. 

For PR to work, there needs to be respect between consultants and clients. 

KPIs need to be agreed upon and contracts signed. 

Yes, change your requirements, but moving the goalposts towards the end of a project isn’t on. 

Blaming a PR for not getting enough sales, is again, off the agenda. 

PR is part of the communications mix, and while it can drive sales, PR alone isn’t going to do that. 

Passive-aggressive comments have no place at the PR table, and neither does blatant bullying. 

PR consultants are not punch bags for anyone, and while PR isn’t ER, PR is a profession like any other where people should be treated as equals, not the skivvies behind the scenes.  



It takes time and energy and money to be a good PR.  
  
It takes showing up day after day, pitching into a void to be a good PR. 

Being a PR person does not mean that you have to be on call, 24/7, for a client who doesn’t value your time and isn’t paying for the service. 

Yes, they will be paying you and you have bills to pay, but that doesn’t mean that you can’t set boundaries, say no and if need be, walk away. 

We all know that COVID has been a hard slog and that a loss in business, the juggle of homeschooling and battle over the TV remote makes life harder, but remember as a PR consultant, whatever your level, you are there to help support clients, to be a part of their growth and to make them more visible, you are not their therapist, and certainly not someone to take frustrations out on. 

Of course, I know that most people will be great to work with, and this is just a minority, but as we move towards the end of lockdown, please make sure that your new normal, when it comes to work, includes working with brands and clients you believe, who want you to be an extension of your team and who treat you as an equal, not a commodity. 

Please remember that please and thank you go a long way, and if it feels wrong, it probably is!  

Natalie 

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