The myth of DIY PR (and why I yelled at Inc.com)

There are two particular things in life that make my blood boil to a point where I actually start having hallucinations:

#1 – People who can’t commit to anything fully and who often use words like “try” “should” “possibly” and “maybe”. Sometimes in the same sentence. These folks couldn’t stay in a relationship if they were chained to a bed and couldn’t make a business successful if they were handed $100 Million on a silver platter. Note: stay away from these types of people if you ever want to have sanity in your life.

Example phrase – often in the form of a text message: Oh, I am really going to try to make it for sure. I should possibly know maybe by like Friday. TTYL. LOL.

#2 – This second point is perhaps less personally annoying and just more generally, no completely, unacceptable: people who talk about things of which they have little insight or expertise but simply because they have seen it done or experienced it on some level they believe they are experts.

For example:

Exhibit A: Someone who has been divorced 5 times giving relationship advice to her 25 year-old daughter. This conversation can be overheard in places like, oh say, Beverly Hills, almost on a regular basis.

Exhibit B: Someone who has never actually started a business giving advice to an entrepreneur about how they should run their business. This also, ironically, tends to happen in places like Beverly Hills. And pretty much every other place on the planet.

Exhibit C: A Sales and Marketing blogger writing a grammatically incorrect and misleading article about Do-it-Yourself PR on Inc.com of all places. [And thank you Meredith Fineman for bringing it to my attention with this email subject line which pretty much sums it up: “head –> desk.”]

Here is why Exhibit C is so frustrating (and you should read the article by the way):

#1 – It pre-supposes that on a continuum of skill, time, and willingness that those who can’t afford or don’t want to pay for PR actually are on the high end of that spectrum. Meaning: they have the actual skill level to figure out a cohesive narrative and story line, the time to write it, and the willingness to follow through on every necessary aspect. See my drawing below for a very simple illustration.

#2 – The article makes PR professionals as a cohort appear dispensable and inept which I can assure you they are not. Assuming of course, the PR professional is adept at their job; then in fact, these folks are invaluable.

#3 – He is alluding only to 10k/month and above models and does nothing to address the thousands of PR professionals who, in fact, charge between 3k and 7k/month on average; and whose clients are extremely happy with the results. To assume that you need to go from DIY to spending 10k/month is misleading. He misses a large piece of the pie. A huge chunk of the puzzle. A…well…you get the point.

Simply put: it’s just a poorly written and misleading article.

My other HUGE problem with this is that it appears on Inc.com. I get the whole contributing blogger thing. Heck, I contribute to publications all the time – but I assume that my editors will make sure I know my ass from a hole in the ground and that I’m writing on subject matter for which I am capable and qualified to write.

Now that I’ve flagged this article for even more reading and banter, you may ask: “Why, Rebekah, didn’t you just leave it alone?”

And that’s a good question.

Well, here’s my answer: because there is a pervading ideology that assumes if we just don’t say anything and we allow faulty messages and tawdry tales to go unchecked then they will just go away.

Well, this didn’t work for the Catholic church and it sure as hell didn’t work for Anthony Weiner. My hunch is that it won’t work for the PR industry either.

So…if you’re a startup founder, know that if you hear advice like this about DIY PR that you should think long and hard if you have the chops: skill, time, willingness on the far right end of the spectrum.

And if you are a PR pro that is indeed good at your job, then this should piss you off…and you should say something about it.

I’m out.

Enjoy the visual about the Myth of DIY PR.

DIY PR