Hey PR Flacks! Stop Giving Us a Bad Name.

January 2, 2009

Excuse me while I rant. What we like: smart PR people who know how to build relationships with media and get shit done. What we don’t like: PR flacks who use words like ‘excited,’ ‘pleased,’ and ‘thrilled’ in press releases. What we REALLY don’t like: PR flacks who are so unprofessional that they give the entire lot of us a bad rap.
Last week, technology pundit Michael Arrington announced that his blog TechCrunch (arguably the most high profile, influential tech blog around) would no longer honor embargos, unless they are given an explicit exclusive on the story. The reason? PR flacks who don’t know how to do their job. I can’t even begin to explain how much this irritates me. As part of an agency that prides itself on hard work, solid media relationships and no BS, we are facing a huge roadblock to undo the mistakes made by 99 percent of PR people out there. Arrington’s complaints (that PR people pitch recklessly and do not ensure the legitimacy of embargoes given to the media) are justified-in fact, I agree with most of what he says about our kind. However, his new blanket policy to break every single embargo his team accepts does a huge disservice to the emerging technology companies that are worthy of ink AND working with great PR people.
I’ll be honest, it will be a challenge to work with TechCrunch given this development. Though coverage on TechCrunch is a huge win for a consumer tech start-up, I will counsel my clients against giving the site news under embargo knowing it will be broken. I’m not willing to take that risk for breaking news. Exclusives are an option for working with Arrington’s folks, but we prefer to save those agreements for only the most pressing circumstances. Sure would be nice if this never became an issue; if PR flacks would get it right, and stop blowing it for the rest of us.

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