10 horrible PR personalities

Here’s a catalogue of PR characters to stay away from, complete with warning signals and dire consequences, from an industry veteran who’s seen it all—from the inside.

One bad apple spoils the whole barrel, or so says the proverb.

PR will always have bad types, but how do you avoid being poisoned by one?

There are plenty of helpful articles on using PR agencies, but watch out for these 10 awful PR personalities both in and out of PR firms. Keep them in mind before you sign the dotted line. You’ll stand a greater chance of keeping your sanity and reputation intact.

1. Shallow PR pros

Kiss-kiss, mwah, mwah. It’s all absolutely lovely, darling.

This type of PR pro is 100 percent fake, has the depth of a birdbath. When they’re more concerned about how they look and insist on taking you to the most expensive restaurants―that you’ll end up paying for at billing time―they won’t deliver substance.

2. Sloths

They’ll get back to you—or so they say.

These loafers have to be chased for answers. They have no real passion or ambition, will never reach for the stars and are content to do the bare minimum. Blank of face and bleary of eye, they have the excitement of a day spent filing and voices that cure insomnia.

3. Spin doctors

These are the worst of the worst.

They don’t blink at anything underhand and are happy to recommend shady practices. If you’re a vested interest, they’ll approach you―or you may be tempted to use them. They love global companies, governments, billionaires and other power-mongers. They are rightly despised. They’re all deniability, lying, distortion and scapegoating—the evil known as spin.

4. Toxically incompetent

Whether they’re making a dumb pitch to a journalist or never proofreading their written content, this type’s relentless incompetence will cause you to suffer for their fall-outs.

You’ll require a decontamination shower and crisis communicator to recover your reputation. Stay well clear.

5. All heart, but no brain

These PR pros have lots of heart and genuinely care. Sadly, PR can’t only be about love.

You can have good intentions and lots of sincerity, but must also have a sharp mind to match. Strategic thinking, planning and creativity all matter, with a steely intelligence to manage everything from tight deadlines and crisis communications to research and media relations.

6. Soulless bureaucrats

They’re the walking dead of PR.

They have no heart, passion, dynamism or creativity. They’re too big for their boots, and their laurels are for resting on. It’s PR without a soul, from the Department of Endless Bureaucracy.

How can you tell they are soulless? If monotone voices and bland ideas don’t give it away, try this: Eyes are supposedly the window of the soul. If all you can see is the back of their head―voilà.

7. Bullsh*tters

This type is a close cousin to the spin doctor. If they look like it, smell like it, talk like it and then bill you for it, then yes, it’s bullsh*t PR.

Don’t deceive yourself when they kid you. Trust your instinct, and step away.

8. Nit pickers

This lot may have ethics, heart and mind. Here’s the problem: They debate everything endlessly.

It takes forever to get anything done, and you find yourself exhausted, not assured. They’re counter-productive in their pursuit of dotting Is and crossing Ts. You’ll end up not only nit-less, but hairless from stress.

9. Bland communicators

Whatever they say or do—whether proposing an idea or delivering an activity—makes you feel indifferent. You think, so what?

Being competent and professional is not enough; you expect more. PR pros should inspire their clients by what they say, and impress those around them by what they do.

10. Short-sighted

They’re great at the minutiae, but short-sighted, lacking in imagination and deep thinking. They don’t see the big picture.

These PR pros don’t use such words as strategy or end goals, and they lack vision. This type can’t see the forest for the trees.

With no clear, far-reaching perspective, you’ll be in danger of building the wrong reputation, one about the here-and-now, remembered today, forgotten tomorrow. Ultimately, you’ll find that your brand has no memorable story or longevity.

What other PR personalities would you add to this list, PR Daily readers? Robert White is the founder of PR Matters. A version of this story originally appeared on the firm’s blog.

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