Throwing the lamb to the lions

In the latest issue of PR Week, its editor (Ruth Wyatt) makes a very good point about agencies that rely too heavily on junior staff. Poorly briefed and with little or no experience, juniors are often thrown to the lions when they are asked to call journalists.

Ruth gives an example of what she says too frequently happens:

Young, junior and nervous PR: “My MD emailed you a while ago.”

Editor: “I don’t recall it.”

PR: “Well, she was talking to someone about you and they said you would be interested.”

Editor: “Really. Who was that?”

PR: “Um, I don’t know – I’m not at my desk.”

It turned out that Ruth had indeed received an email, but as the subject line was so vanilla it had languished in her email inbox.

While junior staff do a brilliant job, they appreciate and need consistent senior support and input. I’ve always lived by the mantra that if you aren’t willing do a job yourself, you cannot expect your team to do it. Senior people need to be at the centre of the PR team, not at the periphery handing out the occasional order.

As Ruth says in her PR Week editorial: “The PR business is oft criticised for putting junior folk on sell-ins and follow-ups, a practice that has always struck me as inherently wrongheaded if you wish media relations to succeed. It comes across as amateurish.”

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