There’s no lack of articles highlighting the PR industry’s daunting problems.
One—which I should have known better than to read—titled “Curing the PR Patient in 2013
,” cites symptoms without suggesting remedies. Cue the usual issues raised such posts: outdated metrics, a lack of understanding of social media, the industry’s spotty reputation.
Look, it’s no secret that public relations, like many other industries, has its share of problems and bad apples. Life isn’t perfect, nor is PR. But the constant screed bemoaning every little flaw has to stop. It’s destroying the vitality and value of the profession, and it makes PR professionals look like fools in front of the very people we are trying to impress: current and potential clients.
Who really benefits?
I have a theory that much of the hand-wringing comes from PR pros trying to make a name for themselves. That’s fine if it’s done in a careful and structured manner. Otherwise, it can manifest itself in far more problems than it purports to cure.
What other industry faces the conundrum of those who work within it doing everything they can to tear it apart for their own benefit? (OK, aside from politics.)
A constructive proposal
I’d like to propose a modest idea: a one-year moratorium on PR pros’ pointing out the industry’s problems. We get it. PR has issues. Enough already.
It's time to find solutions and experiment with innovative ideas.
If you’re not offering solutions, I’m not interested in what you have to say. If you can’t come up with at least one viable fix for what you think ails the profession, please don’t write anything at all. I realize PR pros are adept at generating publicity for their clients and, by extension, for themselves. But please put that skill to productive use, such as through the Public Relations Society of America’s PRServing America
To be fair, I have trafficked in these types of posts myself—several times, in fact. A quick scan through the archives of the PRBreakfast Club blog
(for which I’ve written) makes it clear that I made a decent name for myself by tearing into the bad work of others. Frankly, it’s not something I’m terribly proud of now that I’m outside the PR industry looking in.
It’s clear to me that what the industry needs isn’t a bunch of opinions about what it’s doing wrong. Organizations such as PRSA and the Council of PR Firms are well aware of the issues the industry faces, and I’m confident they have competent plans to address those issues. What they need are ideas and volunteers willing to help them right those problems and advance the industry.
Let’s make 2013 the year we work together to advance the PR industry, not tear it down for our own benefit. There are enough people out there already doing that without PR pros’ help.
Keith Trivitt is the director of marketing and communications at MediaWhiz, an integrated digital media agency. He was previously the associate director of public relations at the Public Relations Society of America.