Amith Prabhu: Is the future really bleak?

04 Apr,2016

By Amith Prabhu

 

In a recent survey of journalists, conducted by Skribe, respondents cited the following:

1. Frequently being targeted with irrelevant pitches

2. Lack of knowledge about beats and right contacts

3. Poor understanding of editorial and content strategies

4. Cold calls – speculative calls to connect with no research and background checks

5. Mass emails of press information without proper context

 

This is going to increase as a problem in the days and weeks ahead. At last count, I had a list of 125 PR firms. These firms had more than three people including the owner, at least a two-city presence, a website and seemed legitimate and not just fly by night operators. On an average, every month a PR professional who thinks he or she is smart is moving out from established consultancies and from other domains including from media outlets to start a PR shop.

 

Three things are happening. Retainers are hitting rockbottom as these newbie entrepreneurs in their quest to survive are working at a low fee. In the process, the talent they are hiring is coming from anywhere and everywhere which is directly hampering quality of work. Most importantly the business of Public Relations is getting a bad name than it already has in certain quarters.

 

How are we going to fix each of these?

1. Frequently being targeted with irrelevant pitches – This will not change for a long time and there does not seem to be a fix in place other than solid training and accreditation.

2. Lack of knowledge about beats and right contacts – This seems to be a perennial problem and a solution does not seem to be in sight.

3. Poor understanding of editorial and content strategies – This is the most disastrous of all. Half-baked consultants masquerade as know-it-all superhumans

4. Cold calls – speculative calls to connect with no research and background checks – This is an age-old issue which can never be fixed

5. Mass emails of press information without proper context – Enough said

 

So, the bottomline is we will have to live with this larger problem. A few firms will get this right and are trying to fix this by hiring and training better professionals. But most are not including some of the big names. All this spells bad news as the future is far from bright until we shake it up sooner than later.

 

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