PR should be left to the professionals, says Ian Irving, head of corporate at experiential agency RPM

One of my pet hates is PR agencies who claim to run events. And conversely I also get annoyed by event agencies who claim that they don’t need a PR agency and that they can do their own PR. 

Are the skills involved with running an event transferable to PR? I don’t think so. Handling the press, writing press releases and creating ideas for articles is quite a separate skill set. So why do so many event agencies think they can do it themselves? It is true that most people, given a steer, could actually write a press release. There is enough information online to guide you in what to put (and more importantly what not to put) in a release but people still get it wrong. Speak to any journalist and they will laughingly tell you about all the errors they see in releases and why so many of them just don’t get used.

But press releases are not PR. What about the creativity required to analyse a company, and pull out the trends and the issues that the press will want to hear about? What about the skills required to work with the media in a proactive way?

It is not just people in the events industry that like to think they are PR experts. People complain about spam, but looking in my inbox shows that a lot of untargeted communications from a wide range of businesses aren’t generated as part of PR campaigns, they are so poorly written and thought through. Sometimes I think that people assume PR is so easy they can just get someone in their company, probably someone junior, to send out annoying blanket emails to all their contacts.

It seems like it is a favourite hobby of the media to knock PR sometimes. How often do you see PR people talked about with true respect and awe by the media? Max Clifford may be famous, but is he respected the same way as business leaders in other industries? But I for one, am happy to put my hand up and say that I do appreciate the professionalism of the PR people I have worked with.

At the moment I have a very close relationship with my PR adviser. I have worked with her for over four years and her work has been crucial to me – initially in my success in building my last business, and more recently in launching and then building RPM Corporate. She is an essential part of the team who knows everything that is going on – what we are pitching for and the events we are creating.

It is easy to criticise, and I am sure many of those reading this will have come in for more than their fair share of flack. But here is one thank you, from someone who has benefited from getting the right PR advice, from the right PR professional, at the right time.

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