Thursday, October 13, 2005


This is a topic on which I have written before, but it concerns me, so I am writing again.

A few organizations and individuals can command media wherever and whenever they want it and in the way they want it, whether or not reporters concur. Think, for example of the high-handed approaches Hollywood publicists use to control access to celebrities. What is sad about these organizations and individuals is that they don't work in the same PR world that 99.9 percent of practitioners live in. Most of us have to work to get reporters interested in organizations and their products and services. We can't sit back and take incoming calls while deciding whom we are going anoint today and whom to place in a penalty box until they lick our shiny shoes.

The problem with high-handed practitioners is that they become as arrogant as their clients, and arrogance is the death of PR. Arrogance leads to spin and spin to gamesmanship that earns PR the bad name it sometimes deserves.

Arrogant clients don't want to hear facts. They fling them back in your face. You are incompetent for telling them something can't or shouldn't be done. You are ignorant for failing to understand how the system works. You may have been a practitioner for 20 or more years, but clearly you don't know the business. One has a strong urge to throttle people like this because they not only won't listen, they can't. They know what they know: Their conviction is held so strongly that facts are an assault on their self-image.

How do you handle arrogance? The best approach is to get away, if you can. Sometimes you can't. If you have to serve this kind of client, submissiveness is a mistake, I believe. One must stand up for facts and repeat them whether or not the organization or individual agrees.

The challenge is that one must know the facts. There must be checking and rechecking to make sure that what one says is accurate. There must be paper trails everywhere and plenty of arse-covering. Even one slip with this kind of person, and one is tossed aside quickly. Of course, there are times when that happens anyway no matter how hard one has worked.

The most depressing part is that the arrogant often get away with their behavior because there is no one more powerful to straighten them out. PR practitioners are not strong enough to put brakes on them.


Post a Comment

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?