As 2013 comes speeding to a close, it's time for public relations practitioners to pause from their usual frenzied rounds to take stock of how they have spent the passing year and to give some
thought to what the beckoning New Year may have in store. What follows is based on personal experience, observations and wishes for the betterment of the PR profession.
I resolve to make simple English my first language in all public and internal communications, from releases to memos and beyond. I will fight the good fight with clients who desire to speak "corporatease" and decline to add my contact information to communications that lack honesty and clarity of language.
I resolve not to spam the community of journalists and editors, an ongoing plague decried by The New York Times “Haggler” recently in “Swatting at a Swarm of Public Relations Spam,” by the unfiltered use of paid media databases.
In other words, I resolve to personally research my media lists to select only those journalists who cover the topics of concern to my clients, and will immediately remove those from my lists who request such.
I will be an honest sounding board for clients by asking the tough questions, including: What makes that activity newsworthy? Will you be able to provide the details the journalist will require? Will your client (for B2b businesses) allow you to fully discuss the project, including metrics? Will you promise to deliver the requested copy, answers or column on deadline? Will all of it be true?
I will adhere to editorial guidelines, making sure that clients understand the difference between self-promotion and insightful or instructive copy.
I will thank -- but not bribe -- journalists and editors for including my clients in their publications.
I will allocate 10% of my time to assisting a pro-social, not-for-profit organization that serves my community, such as a group that fights hunger or promotes better health.
I will continue to further my education about emerging media channels and how best to use them to tell my clients’ stories.
I will seek to enhance my knowledge of client industries to be better able to offer strategic insights about trends and key issues.
Success in public relations stands or falls on one's editorial relations and the public trust in the published word. As PR practitioners, we are charged with advancing our clients’ agendas, but as "partners" with journalists, we are bound to act ethically as well, an ongoing balancing act that presents continuous challenges for the industry. Happy New Year.