Wednesday, September 26, 2007

PR Firms Suck My Ass

There are a lot of people who don't work while at their jobs. I used to be one of those people; in fact, during the first five years I lived in New York, I wrote the first several drafts of my as-yet-unpublished book at my dayjobs. How did I get away with not working at work? I had low-level, low-paying, boring, mind-numbing, unimportant jobs. I work at my job now because it's interesting and in my small firm (there are 8 of us), if I didn't do my job, it wouldn't get done.

For the most part, I like my job and my clients. But what I don't like, what I HATE is working with other PR firms. There are a lot of reasons why people don't like the public relations industry and publicists in general: we're sneakily trying to push our clients' agenda, we pester journalists, and we spin the truth. Valid points. That's why I like working at my firm--all of our clients are non-profits--when I promote them, I'm promoting their causes and ideals. The reason that I hate working with other PR firms isn't that I don't want to help them promote their clients--I hate that they don't do their work.

So, here's what I'm talking about:My client is A. For the last several years, A has worked partnered with B, the corporate giving department of a large corporation. Twice a year, A and B need joint press. I will call B's PR firm The Rude Firm or RF. RF is one of those big, big PR firms--while my boss and I are the only people working on A's account, RF has about 6 people who work for B. The main woman, I'll call her Vanessa, who works for B is a Senior Vice President. Sounds pretty impressive, huh? A slim woman in her 50s who wears too much jewelry, Vanessa's tone is always condescending and so are her actions--when I worked with her a few months ago, she actually said good-bye to me by patting me on the shoulder. Lovely. But her condescending tone and actions would be tolerable if she actually worked on our joint projects. Hell, or had her minions work for her. No go.

The reason I haven’t posted in a while is because we were gearing up for a big, joint event yesterday during which we were releasing a survey. Now, RF was supposed to take the lead in all things regarding the survey, and my firm was supposed to take the lead in getting journalists to come to the event. When we shared our press outreach list featuring about 100 outlets, RF offered to pitch to 3 of them. 3! Out of 100! Ok…. But we couldn’t send an advisory to any of our invited journalists until we had some of the survey results. RF got them Wednesday night. Which meant they didn’t have an advisory to us until Thursday morning. And when I saw it, I almost went ballistic.

I was already pissed that they were being shitty about the invitations and had dragged their heels in getting the results to us, effectively not allowing us to tell journalists about our event until 4 days in advance, but the advisory was so poorly written and filled with so many typos, I wouldn’t have had my receptionist read it, let alone my boss, client or another firm. Then, things only got worse. I rewrote the entire press release they sent me. And the 18 page powerpoint presentation? A least 3 typos, errors, and just wrong information on each and every single page. Obviously, no one had proofread it or even looked at it before it was emailed around. I just don’t understand why they thought this was an acceptable thing for anyone to see. They have account coordinators, managers, supervisors, and the VP working on this, and these horribly written and error-ridden things were the best they could do?

Clearly, I totally need to move over the corporate side so someone at a smaller firm can do all my work for me.

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