An Attack on PR… again.

Every few months, there’s someone who thinks they know exactly what the PR industry and its pros are all about. The press release is dead, some declare. PR people are vampires, others say. On February 23, PR pros were once again the topic of discussion and its wasn’t because we did something right.

In Wednesday’s New York Times, Bruce Buschel- a man of many hats- wrote a post in the small-business blog. In it, he described the experiences of opening his newest restaurant.  Buschel received a pitch from a PR director (how the pro could help, etc.). I’ll let you read his post, but all in all… he’s not a fan of PR folks.  Buschel says:

I have been dealing with P.R. people for a very long time. It would be crazy to categorize all public relations people as crazy, so let’s just say that P.R. people drive me crazy. All of them. As a client, as an interviewer of clients, as an avoider of clients they are selling too hard, and now as a client again. What I have finally come to understand is that P.R. people are paid to twist reality into pretzels and convince you that they are fine croissants. At some point, they actually believe their own concoctions.

So, we aren’t all crazy, but we drive Mr. Buschel crazy.  Come again?

Here’s what gets me about people like Mr. Buschel.  Because of experience, they believe they are an authority on how PR works.  He was so astute though, that he picked not one, but TWO wrong folks.  Instead, it appears to me Mr. Buschel was a little impatient. Is that also the fault of the PR firm(s)? No, you ultimately need a good client/firm relationship to make things truly work.

Let’s be honest, we all know some PR pros that make our skin crawl.  Overall the industry is filled with honest, respectable, and hard-working folks who know how to put a plan together.  They also know not to promise something they can’t deliver.

So Bruce, next time you decide to choose a PR firm for a restaurant, one of your jazz films, or off-Broadway musicals, look in the mirror first.  Sometimes it’s not the PR pro that’s the problem… it may be you.


About JasMollica

"It's never too late to have a life and it's never too late to change one." That's something I tell students, friends, and family all the time. After living and working in New York City, I took my own advice in 2004, switched my career from the television/radio industry and got into public relations. Now, I spend my days as a PR/social media marketing consultant and get inspired daily. It's been a good ride, so far. But the car has plenty of gas left. I hope you'll join along in this guy's journey!

Posted on February 24, 2011, in Marketing, Public Relations and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 18 Comments.

  1. I completely agree with this post. In the #PRSSA chat last night, we discussed ethics, and most of us agreed that it is important to stay honest and transparent to avoid false perceptions like these. I know they come with the territory because some people will always have negative connotations, but some of it is just sheer ignorance. We’re here to inform; let’s start by making sure people like Bruce Buschel know we’re not here to “spin” the truth out of whack.

  2. There’s no doubt that plenty of PR “Professionals” can be manipulative or dishonest, but is that any different than people in all the other profitable industries?

    It seems to me as if this was a post he wrote out of haste or the need to publish SOMETHING, which is exactly what the worst PR pros would suggest he do.

    Research has shown that people rely too much on their own experiences and form under-developed conclusions as a result, often neglecting other evidence to stick with what’s convenient for them. It sounds like he could use a PR pro to straighten his approach out.

    • Nick,

      I think what the author did wrong was not having a clear vision. Any prospective client has an idea of what they’d like to do or see. It seemed as if his vision changed too often.

  3. All I have to say is that if he’d laid on the hate to a group of people based on skin color, sexual orientation, religious beliefs, etc. he’d be raked over the coals. Everywhere.

    I’d like to know what he does the first time his restaurant gets a negative review. Or, better yet, has troubles even getting a reviewer to come to the restaurant. I’m sure he won’t call a PR pro, because we’re all crazy and provide zero value to a business.

    /end sarcastic rant

  4. Like all good things in life, a food relationship with a PR agency is a two way street. Both sides need to work together, and understand what is being expected, to get the max out of the arrangement.

  5. Oh man…this post made me laugh. You know, there are some clients you’d rather give to your competition. Guess what Bruce Buschel? You’re one of them.

  6. Good stuff, Jason. Overarching critiques of any industry or group always piss me off. This is no exception.

    Here’s the deal — set expectations and make sure you and your agency are on the same page regarding objectives and understanding what really matters. If an agency said they couldn’t work with you until they tried your food, yes that is bunk. But you also just shouldn’t expect New York Times articles and Mashable posts to grow on trees. Hell, that may not even be the best outreach target for your brand.

  7. The one thing that really captured my attention was that it sounded like he was opening the restaurant to get publicity, not the other way around. You know what I’m saying?

    That doesn’t sound like a sound business model.

    Great post, btw.

  8. Interesting. I feel like there is always a journalist who goes on a rant every once in a while. Frustrating is those who are doing this, because I am sure there are some PR profs still out there that give everyone else a bad name. This article beckons the question if PR profs should be approaching their pitches differently.

    I have a feeling that there was that one person that made this guy mad and he decided to categorize the profession as a whole.

    • Hi Alicia,

      You know what would happen if a PR pro did this in a post? In honesty, he/she wouldn’t. People like Mr. Buschel can rip on our industry and it’s chalked up to “well, that’s how PR people must be.”

      I’d like to think good, solid pros know how to smartly market a business or product. But, you need the client’s help to make that happen.

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