Monday, October 13, 2014

When Public Relations isn't Public Relations

I coach and advise students about careers in public relations. So I see my share of online job postings for PR positions. Too often, they read like this:
By Esra / Esra
 [see page for license],
via Wikimedia Commons

[Headline:] Entry-Level Public Relations/Sales/Marketing

In Your Eye Marketing Inc is currently offering entry level sales and marketing positions that include comprehensive training. No prior sales or marketing experience is necessary, and we will train you at the entry level to learn a variety of skills from sales and marketing to management and mentor-ship. (sic -- mentorship is seldom hyphenated)
Responsibilities in Entry Level Include:

  • Assisting in the daily growth and development of our company
  • Assisting with efforts of new business acquisition
  • Expertly managing the needs of external customers
  • Developing strong leadership and interpersonal skills
  • Face to face sales of services to new business and/or consumer prospects
  • Preparing marketing and sales strategies alongside our Marketing Managers
  • Great interpersonal skills and social competency
  • Professional demeanor, organized, reliable
  • Effective and skillful communication skills
  • Ambition, a strong work ethic, and an earnest willingness to learn
  • Results driven attitude with a hunger for success
  • Ability to excel in a high-energy, fast-paced environment
This ISN'T public relations. It's sales. Period. If you don't see words like writing, news release, social media, media relations, or strategic planning, it's not public relations. It doesn't talk about working with editors or developing relationships with influencers or gatekeepers.

You may contact members of the public, but it's not a PR job. You won't be building a brand or working to understand attitudes. It's just sales promotion. Nothing wrong with a job like that, but if your goal is to do PR work for NASA, Ford, United Way, a college or professional organization, this isn't the best first step.

Yes, I get it; "entry level" opportunities are intentionally vague. But to suggest this role has much to do with the public relations profession is an outright lie. And the first rule of real PR is: "do not lie to the media."

Or, in this case, through the media.