Sunday, July 6, 2008

I Don't Like this Form of PR

The other day while finishing up a project at the non-profit foundation where I work, I got a call from a PR person from another charity. I won't use any names to protect the innocent, but the charity itself is a very noble cause and the person I spoke to was genuinely friendly. She was essentially calling me asking for ways to get them grant money, which is fine since we do award grants.

But this was about the third time in six months I have either spoken to this same woman or had an email exchange with her and she still doesn't know who I am. Not only that but she sends these massively huge email files containing Word document attachments that clog up my inbox or that don't work or look unprofessional when I am able view them. In fact, one time when she sent these Word files that didn't open, I suggested she make them into PDFs. She replied saying she didn't know how to convert Word documents to PDFs. So I replied telling her how to do it. So she did it and rattled off like seven in a row in a drive-by emailing. They promptly went into my trash file. And then, as part of this latest phone call that she made, she had the audacity to ask me what my email address was.

I really don't like this form of PR.

What this tells me is that I'm just one person on a huge list, she has no kind of records about who I am, and quite frankly, she doesn't know how to do her job.

Nice combo there.

To all college graduates looking to get a job in public relations, here are a few quick tips:

If you're going into the field of public relations...

1. Learn who your audience is and how to talk to them
2. If you're trying to build rapport with someone... build it! Don't just dump your emails on them or pester them with phone calls. That just moves your organization down a notch on your caller's list because you're annoying them.
3. Learn the latest best practices and how to use technology. Don't expect anybody to bend over backwards for you. You need to be ahead of the game and be able to make somebody else's job easier, not more complex. People are busy and you're trying to get their good favor, not make things harder for them.

Good PR can do an organization a world of good, but bad PR can set it all back a hundred years.

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