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Raanan Geberer: Public relations—more professionalism needed

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Brooklyn Daily Eagle

The other day, I ran into someone I knew who used to work for a small public relations firm. “These days,” she said, “many firms aren’t sending out releases, or doing public relations, at all. They just have someone making phone calls, one after another, and if someone is interested, then they’ll connect them with someone in the company.”

I was shocked, but I shouldn’t have been so surprised. For years, I’ve been seeing a slow decline in the quality of public relations work.

Of course, the big institutions, government agencies, the big corporations and the big PR firms are as professional as ever. Those guys are real pros. Even many smaller institutions are really professional. But in many cases, whenever you get a public affairs person on the phone and ask them a question, even a simple one, they say they’ll have to get back to you – or have someone else call you.

Nonsense! In the “old days,” if you were a public relations person for, say, the Port Authority (and I’m only using that example because I once knew someone who had been a PR person for the Port Authority), you were expected to know about the operations of the Port Authority from A to Z.  

The only time that person had to consult a “higher-up” in the company would be if there was breaking news or if there was something that was something that was particularly controversial. Indeed, the execs would brief their PR people on a regular basis on the issues and new developments.

Also, especially with small companies or people trying to publicize them, once I express any slight interest in what they’re trying to publicize, I keep getting follow-up calls, every day, every other day, three, four, five times. This is not only annoying, but unprofessional. One or two follow-up calls or emails will do. Don’t they realize that this turns people off?

Last, but not least, I’m very dismayed to see that in many companies, PR has been absorbed by what is called “marketing.” Nonsense! Marketing means promoting products, and a college, say, or a hospital should not be considered a “product.”

At any rate, these are some of my concerns, and I’d like to hear from some industry professionals about these issues.

November 28, 2012 - 11:26am


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