Don’t get me wrong, I don’t hate the public relations industry and I certainly don’t hate people who work in it. Some of my best friends…..(Jayne Howarth, Ros Dodd etc). Unlike some journalists I actually feel grateful to good PR firms. Let’s be honest, in recent years working on a newspaper would have been far harder without them.
What I hate is doing PR. That’s all.
I feel the need to say this because since I’ve been a self-employed writer, at least once a week I get a call from somone I’ve featured in the Birmingham Post in the past, who wants me to write about them again. They suppose that now I’m freelance I’m only to happy to tout my work round a range of publications and, they imagine, earn a multiple fee from them.
To which I can only say that I would sooner pickle my head. In fact I DID say exactly that to one hopeful – he still didn’t understand I didn’t want the job.
For those that don’t understand the difference let me explain. It’s about the difference between telling and selling. I love the telling. I’m a writer. I like to communicate, to connect, to build up relationships. I loathe the selling – picking up a phone and saying: ‘I’ve got a great story here. Do you want to publish it?’
That’s why I’m not in PR. It’s why I’m not in double-glazing.
Granted, there is middleground between telling and selling, a place where sales-patter and headline-writing sit. I’m comfortable on one side of that middleground, I’m not on the other.
Next time I’m approached by someone who wants me to both tell and sell their story, I shall put analogies about pickling heads to one side. I shall simply say: ‘The service you require is public relations. £1,500 would be the going commerical rate.’ Let’s see if that works.