The business of Public Relations can be exciting and very rewarding at times. In a profession that is seemingly built on relationships it’s unfortunate that such an issue with what I like to call, “mean girl syndrome,” exists. From feedback I’ve heard from friends in media and even personal experiences, this syndrome seems to run rampant throughout our industry.
Remember the ID PR publicist, Bryna Rifkin, who got caught on camera showing less-than-favorable behavior to a journalist? Yeah, I bet she wishes that video would go away. Mean really isn’t a good look on her, or any PR professional for that matter.
Within our industry there are opportunities to interact with individuals who have achieved differing levels of notoriety, and on the rare occasion, celebrity. However, it appears that the mere association with creative types, whose bad behavior is regularly excused, has the tendency to bring out the mean side of publicist, and others in public relations. And yes, it happens with PR professionals who represent great brands and executives as well – not just celebs.
My advice: Remember, PR pros, you’re not the celebrities, executives, and companies you work for, nor would you have the right to big-time people even if you were.
Why It Pays to Be Nice in PR
1. More Access to Awesome Things and Opportunities
My mom always told me “you attract more bees with honey.” As a great PR pro, you’ll have the ability to organize and attend great events with clients. That means you’ll be mingling with new people, often.
When you’re nice to people, especially media and potential clients, you’re more memorable. This can lead to more business and more opportunities for client coverage. People like to work with people they like. Period.
2. Long Future in this Business
People don’t forget. They don’t forget what you said, they don’t forget what you did, and they don’t forget how you made them feel.
Be nice. Your old bosses, clients and associates will remember that.
As a new business owner of my own PR agency, I was able to grow quite quickly by bringing on business from people I worked with in the past because I always engaged with them in a positive way and did great work in the past.
There is a scene in the film, Superbad where Jonah Hill’s character teases one of his classmates for wetting his pants as a child.
The scene goes as follows:
Jonah: Why don’t you go piss your pants again?
Greg: That was like eight years ago.
Jonah Hill: People don’t forget.
Although I may have illustrated this point in a comedic way, I stand behind it.
Be nice and don’t pee your pants. I mean, don’t be mean.
3. Better Media Friendships
Journalists and other platform holding media members are the gatekeepers of public relations. They are the ones standing between you and the public hearing your client’s story.
Properly maintaining these friendships are absolutely pivotal to the success of one’s career.
So follow-up, send thank you cards, check on them regularly through social media and wish them well on birthdays, anniversaries, etc. Because when a journalist has to decide between your story and another, that time you said thank you might be the deciding factor.
4. Happier Life
It doesn’t pay to be mean in life, nor does it pay to be mean in PR. Do I even need to elaborate?
We don’t expect your life or attitude to be all sunshine and rainbows but when you’re working with clients, journalists and business associates, treat them ten times nicer than you’d want to be treated. Putting good energy out there will always come back ten fold.
5. Awesome Reputation
Let’s face it, you never want to be known as the “B” everyone has to deal with. There’s a difference between being firm and being mean.
In this business nice doesn’t mean you don’t have a backbone. It simply means exercise politeness and understanding first, before acting entitled and not being helpful.
Being remembered as the easy to work with person will always lead to more goodness and opportunities and, more importantly, an awesome reputation.
In a nutshell, being nice implies you give what you expect in return: professionalism and respect.
We aren’t celebrities. We’re publicists and PR professionals. What we do is selfless.
We work hard so people can hear our client’s stories. Work hard and be nice. The good karma that comes from that can be amazing.