A Little PR for the Field of PR?

Telling someone that you are a PR professional usually elicits a reaction akin to the one you get as a mother bringing a small child on to a plane. In both cases you can feel the people around you thinking “Now why would you want to go and do something evil like that?” Nobody says anything negative outright, but you can feel a sense of quiet hostility focused on you, even if people give you a tight (and decidedly insincere) smile in response.

It’s a matter of misconception and misunderstanding in each case. Ironically, it is due to faulty preconceptions that could be cleared up quite quickly. So here goes a tiny initial foray:

Despite the stereotypes, not all PR professionals are evil masters of spin.

Just as not every child that gets on an airplane is going to scream and wail all the way from New York City to London, we’re not all out to convince you to poison the environment, kill puppies, worship Satan or even to buy insurance. Many of us got into the field because we enjoy writing, we’re adept at putting words together persuasively and, frankly, we’re amazed we’re actually getting paid to do so. And of those individuals, quite a few are working for a business or not-for-profit or individual in which they truly believe. Part of their job is to get you out there to understand why they do and why you should too.

Yes, just as there have been one or two ill-behaved children with exceptionally strong lungs who have made other passengers wary of toddlers, there are a few PR professionals who do have some black marks on their record – and they may have indeed tried to convince you that drinking blood will keep you young .

But this is not the norm. These are the extremes. And we all know that extremism in any guise can get very ugly very fast.

So please don’t assume that all PR practitioners are in fact practitioners of the dark arts. It’s just not so.


3 comments so far

  1. bibliothecaire on

    It’s rather like being in development, aka fundraising. It’s a real struggle sometimes to convince people (usually those who aren’t major donors) that development officers truly believe in what they’re doing & are really working to advance the institution rather than merely separate people (most of whom are looking for ways to contribute to society & hoping to find a cause in which they believe) from their money .

  2. barbpetersen on

    Thanks for writing a post about this Abby. I think it is important that us PR folks cast some light on the PR that tends to get squashed by the spin sasquatch.

    Sure. There is and will always be some PR out there that isn’t what I would consider top shelf merchandise in the integrity store – but on the other hand, there are PR professionals working to keep the public informed on issues that really impact our quality of life. (Such issues exclude and are not limited to: that next pair of trendy shoes, the bigger home – bigger car and bigger debt, the mascara that refuses to smudge – ever, or the new phone that brushes your hair and offers advice when no one else is around.)

    For all of you PR people out there working hard to delivery key messages with the intention of making our world a healthier and more fulfilling place to live – good on you and thank you!

    You know who you are.

  3. abbymartin on


    Thank you for posting. Actually, you are one of the people I had in mind- you are a person of great integrity and a genuinely generous spirit. And I honestly believe wherever you end up working, you will end up helping make this world a better place. And we’re fortunate for that. So thank you!


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