Why I left the field of public relations?

I have always wanted to write about why I decided to leave public relations, but held my fingers time and time again as I didn’t want to sound bitter, petty or ungrateful.

However, this morning I read an article by Karamjit Singh called “Are journalists so special?” and it struck a nerve, particularly this bit:

In fact, I have always suspected that deep down in their hearts, those who deal with the media, the PR folk and the corporate communications people in companies, do not really respect the profession. And this is mainly because some of us journalists are quick to ask for a “media price” whenever there is an opportunity.

I won’t say that my lack of respect for local journalists was the catalyst for me leaving PR, but I won’t deny that it plays a rather substantial part.

/cue sounds of bridges collapsing

From my brief experience in the PR industry, I find that the undesirable attribute wasn’t just limited to smooching for media prices, goodies and better treatment.

There’s the ego, hot air, hypocrisy and my biggest peeve, the lack of self-awareness. I mean, yeah they are definitely aware that they are being restricted in what they can write by both government and their paymasters; the corporate advertisers. We’ve heard a lot of those….

But yet, they seem to be strangely unaware of the results of those restrictions: unreadable hot mess. Atrociously written articles. Are you effing kidding me stuff. For crying out loud, what on earth are they smoking? Okay, stop me.

Ethics? A simple search on the Internet will reveal that there were intances where even the content of syndicated materials from a principle foreign magazine had been changed to put local advertisers in better light!

So we’ve covered ethics. How about simple decencies as a human being? Journalists and writers publically bashing PR people for making unintentional mistakes, calling us stupid, RSVP then not turning up due to traffic jams. Got more? Feel free to add below.

What I am trying to say that, local journalists could do with a bit of humble pie for the quality of work that they are turning out. PR & journalism should enjoy a symbiotic relationship, however in my final weeks of being a PR consultant, calling myself a Pandering Rogue did not seem so funny anymore.

I left PR because of many things that I felt were wrong with my job. The money was good, it really was but at the end of the day, I hardly felt any ownership towards my work.

When successful, it’s because of how well I pandered to journalists, hardly the story. And when failed, it’s because I didn’t pander well enough. Sigh, honestly I really didn’t have that much dignity for that sort of constant beating down.

Of course, I had wonderful, wonderful clients and media friends who made me feel so appreciated and treasured that I felt like just being with them forever (you know who you are), but these precious few numbers in the single digit and sadly, that’s just not enough for me.

18 thoughts on “Why I left the field of public relations?”

  1. i agree with your post in whole and i’m a journalist. sometimes i dun even know why i’m in this field when i hated most of the things i have to write (blatant advertorials) and having to deal with self-entitled journalists. no matter what mistake the PR did, I never once yell at them or stab them into pieces like my colleagues do. in fact, I’ll even say sorry to the PR when i have to ask for more materials from them because I know perfectly well what they have to deal with – every single day.

    lack of self-awareness is the perfect way to describe some of us here. i’m so sick of these unabashed journalists that i seriously feel like they are giving others an opportunity to stereotype everyone else in this field. fuck that shit. not every journalists in this country likes free stuff. i’m there at the event for work and work only. fuck goodies bags. fuck free food. i just want to go home and write my article or even read a book to improve my English than to stuff my face, get freebies, not ask a single question in press conference and then write shitty articles.

    sorry for ranting, but man… i hate journalists in this country. so fucking much. a little please-thank you-and-sorry goes a long long way.

    1. hey nanananame, so sorry to hear of your situation. please stay true to your profession and i am sure you will be able to rise above those that are pulling it down. hugs

  2. Hi Kim, i’m not a journalist, nor am i in the PR industry. But i do agree with what you said in your post. I always get the impression that PR and joournalism are glamorous jobs. But at times find these people fake, as well as being free loaders. But what’s your take on full time bloggers? I’m not sure are you a full time blogger. If yes, no offence. But I think some bloggers are just as bad as the PR and journalist. In terms of free loading I mean. Take XX from SG for instance. You’ve probably read her entries of some of here sponsored trips overseas, stay in nice villas, and even some of her home furnishing is sponsored. I don’t really understand how this full time blogging can be a full time job and earning loads from it. Apologise for my ignorance. But I do respect blogges who give honest and unbias reviews, and not just writing nice things because their stay at some hotel, or meal in a restaurant is all paid for. Probably what I’m saying here doesn’t make sense. Hope you get what I mean.

    1. hi winnie, thanks for your honest comments. i think for some full time bloggers, you gotta admit that they have true influence and large followings (in spite of what you may think of their content), which is why it is natural to have sponsors wanting their products/services associated with the bloggers, some even paying money to have their stuff used.

      contrary to common belief, these bloggers do work really, really hard to achieve that level of influence – editing pictures, keeping up with a certain appearance, creating content appealing for their readers etc.

      on the other hand, there are also bloggers with self-entitlement issues who would demand for invites, gifts, special treatment just by the virtue of being a blogger. that, i agree is terrible! like in PR & journalism, there are also both good & bad apples in the industry.

  3. You were and will always be my “GO-TO” PR person: every event, every press release and every thing you did was always spot on.

    Thank you, it never goes unnoticed. So your leaving the industry is a loss and a loss that is felt.

    And as always, thank you for your friendship

  4. Today is the worst day of my life. I work in a PR agency btw. What people sometimes don’t get is that, we as PR personnel are people pleasers. We have to please our boss, we have to please our clients and we have to please the media. To be honest, I have no idea why am I even doing this. I think everyone should just take a chill pill and stop getting on our backs.

  5. I am glad to come across this post. 5 years ago, I took 3 years of contractual roles to get into a permanent role in PR from marketing (All PR agencies told me I have no writing portfolio so they couldn’t take me on). Agency life was not stable and I thought naively in-house was a more stable role. Thinking back, it was the first step to destroy my passion. On the agency side, I was lucky to get into one that has little office politics. But what I understand was bigger agencies are full of catfights. On the corporate side, besides having a stable job (somewhat), you gave up a lot: ownership of work, crowd pleasers (often put PC as stakeholder management). Management and anyone think they can write better than you, or you receive 100 conflicting comments on your work, and you only have 1 to 2 days to change them. A press release that you have drafted will become totally unrecognisable after the 1001th change. When you advise them that the media do not accept this or that, the management will think that it is YOUR job solely to solve that. At the end of the day, be it in-house or agency, you are forever having to please the media, please the management, please everyone. Also, your portfolio widens – corporate communications, internal communications, social media, branding, marketing (yes even marketing!!)

    For those who ever typed “Why I quit PR” in Google, I hope they have a chance to read this post and know that moving in-house is NOT going to make your PR agency role any much better. In fact, it is worse. Hence, I decided by the end of this year, I shall be another one to join those who leave PR/Marcoms/Marketing. Seriously, with the quality of journalists deteriorating, the portfolio getting ever increasingly bigger without corresponding increase in pay, and worst of all, there is NO RESPECT for your work, be it agency or in-house, I think after a decade trying to break into this industry, I can safely say I am going to move out of this field and seek a new field with more sanity.

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