6 Professional Pet Peeves That Rankle PR Pros

Living the Life

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6 Professional Pet Peeves That Rankle PR Pros

Dec 6, 2022 | Living the Life

6 Professional Pet Peeves That Rankle PR Pros

Dec 6, 2022 | Living the Life

What is it about your work that gets under your skin? No matter the profession, we all encounter workplace pet peeves in our interactions with colleagues, clients, vendors, journalists — you name it!

In a recent episode of That Solo Life: The Solo PR Pro Podcast, Karen Swim and Michelle Kane share some lighthearted venting about the things that annoy PR pros at work. 

Read on to see if your top pet peeves made the top six.

1. Misuse of the commenting feature in shared documents

When it comes to editing collaborative documents, Karen feels strongly that the comment feature should be reserved for questions and discussion — not for edit requests. 

“Sometimes there are multiple reviewers saying, Yeah, I think the sentence needs a comma,” she says. “Just put the comma in!”

Using suggesting mode or enabling change tracking saves everyone time and keystrokes and moves the process along much more quickly.

Karen says it’s a reminder to provide some guidance when you share a document for editing. Tell them that it’s OK to edit the document, but also tell them what to look for — it saves time when collaborators know they’re reading for factual accuracy and can ignore minor grammatical errors until a later stage.

2. Last-minute changes that trickle down from large bureaucracies 

When you’re working with larger organizations or clients who may fall under the umbrella of a parent brand, you may find your project tied up in an inordinate amount of red tape. But it’s often the eleventh-hour changes or requests — the ones that come when you think you’ve tied up all the loose ends — that make PR pros want to scream.

Michelle recently encountered this with a commercial spot she was working on. After everything was completed and the client was happy, the parent brand came back with a request that was not only difficult and frustrating, but ultimately made the client look less than stellar.

“Great ideas are great ideas, but it does crack me up that it seems the larger the corporation, the more they seem to fly by the seat of their pants with these ideas — but expect everyone to drop everything and come through,” she says. “Which, of course, you try to do because it’s our job as PR people.”

Advance planning can head off some of these issues — especially if you provide deadlines and get sign-off from all stakeholders at the very beginning. But these things still happen, and it’s important to account for them in your project rates. Larger companies with multiple levels of approvals and several rounds of edits often merit a higher fee to cover the extra time and effort required to meet their needs.

3. Content portals that are not user-friendly 

So you’ve pitched a bylined article and the publication has accepted it — congrats! Now comes the fun part — wrestling with the outdated portal that the publication insists you upload the article assets to.

“I’ve run across some portals lately that have made me want to pick up my computer and throw it against 10 walls!” Karen jokes, sharing a recent experience where it took four people nearly a month to complete an otherwise simple upload.

She says it’s time for publishers to update their old portals — or simply accept submissions by email!

4. Chasing people down for answers 

Everyone is busy, but when someone ghosts you, it just adds more work to your plate.

Michelle says she would prefer almost any reply over radio silence.

“Just please acknowledge me,” she says. “I don’t care if it’s a positive or negative acknowledgment. Just give me proof of life, and that I’m on your radar. That’s all I ask.”

Many PR pros are not shy about tracking down a contact to get a project over the finish line, but wouldn’t it be nice if we didn’t have to?

5. Undervaluing the PR profession

In a world where social media marketing, in particular, is frequently viewed as something that any teenager or intern could do, the true value of PR sometimes gets lost.

“Our expertise and thought processes are not valued,” Michelle says. 

Karen says that PR pros can take an active role in combating this misconception among their clients and connections by doing good, strategic work and really embedding themselves in the organizations they work with.

“What we offer is so much more sometimes than people totally realize,” she says. “It does kind of stink to be so good at your job, to love what you do, to love serving people only to have the value of what you offer diminished.”

6. Journalists bashing PR pros on social media

One common source of PR criticism is frustrated journalists who take to Twitter to decry bad or annoying practices. While PR — like any profession — has its share of people employing less-than-great methods to do their jobs, the resulting social media posts can be quick to put down a whole industry of hardworking professionals.

“Every profession has its bad actors,” Karen says. “We PR people don’t go out and talk about the journalists who don’t fact check or who do things wrong. We do not denigrate the profession of journalism because we understand that sometimes you run into individuals who are going to operate a little bit differently.”

It’s extra frustrating, she says, because PR pros are often some of journalism’s biggest supporters — and many are former journalists themselves. 

“There are so many great reporters out there,” Karen says. “You’re providing a great service. We need you. The world needs you. And so to tear down people who are truly your advocates and your champions, just no.”

Want to join Solo PR Pro? Solo PR Pro Premium membership only opens for enrollment a few times a year. Membership is currently closed, but you can sign up for the waiting list to be among the first to find out when we reopen.

Photo Credit:Iefym Turkin | istockphoto

Written By Solo PR Staff
Solo PR is a membership community for independent/freelance professionals in public relations, social media and related fields. The Solo PR staff includes Editor, Jessica Lawlor and President, Karen Swim.

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