This quote from Thoreau is one of my mantras. Think about it.
Many flacks in this beloved profession are good at what they do, but can’t really tell what they want to be good to do. What’s your preference in PR? What’s your space of expertise? In short, what’s your fire hydrant that you pee on to ensure everyone if your own agency knows that’s your spot?
There are several questions in this industry that we should all know how to answer, despite who is doing the asking. The answers can be curtailed differently to an intern in your agency versus a news director at your local TV station, but truth is salient. Let these answers help you define your own fire hydrant because we have all been asked these questions in one way or another.
1. Should interns be paid? This is a half-and-half question in that half of all creative agencies pay their interns and support it. The other half, not so much, and could care less because people are pounding down the doors waiting to fill a seat, get credit hours and use that logo on a resume. Think it’s just an agency thing? Huffington Post is widely successful and guess what? Most of its contributors aren’t paid. They pimp out the logo for paying jobs, but would you mind writing for HuffPo? Of course not. Would you mind working at one of the uber-agencies you consider in your cash cow dreams … for free? Form an opinion here and stay confident. You’ll be respected for it.
2. Is your pitch really a perfect fit? As a hack-turned-flack, I cringed when I read this in a pitch because I understood this is a PR person (usually a lighter shade of green) who really wanted to score a hit for a client, but that’s a strong description — perfect fit. To some people, that emits the odor of desperation. To others, you are trying to sound like an editor instead of a flack. Be honest, some pitches suck out loud but you feel like you have to do it because a client is asking you to do that — and so is your boss. If you want it to be perfect, do more research and stand by it.
3. Will Social Media Save Journalism? I love this industry but I love the media as well. I have great relationships with people I know in the media and when I hear “cutbacks,” “consolidation,” “layoffs,” and “buyouts,” my heart just goes out to those folk. And in this world of “If you are not into entertaining, it just ain’t journalism” blows. Fortunately, Twitter seems to be salvaging the objectivity of news because there’s no hiding anymore. If you have a point that reeks of bias, you get called out for it. All TV networks do it. Most blogs do it. However, the audience really seems to want more. And social media just may make them do it. What do you think?
4. Who is more important in your database — a columnist, a reporter or a blogger? Be honest, we all have our favorites. And they are usually the people that answer our calls. However, when you are in a pinch, who do you call first? Is that how you merit importance? News has gone to the Web and loves it, but you still dream about your client in the WSJ, so does that merit importance? That is a question many PR peeps are asked and don’t have an answer. Importance should be about meaning, not consumption. That’s not to discredit anyone — we all have our variances. What’s yours?
5. Can anyone do this job? Believe me, journalists have been asked this for years. And if you don’t believe me, ask a “professional blogger.” They are accused of not having standards, ethics or professionalism in some cases. Some people who “major” in a subject have no more comprehension about what a career choice is than someone who is unemployed. A degree just means you went to school. A career means you did what you learned. Do you think you can do a reporter’s job? The former employed news folk are surprised when the encounter the real world of flackdom. I know I did. Would you?