I grew up in the magazine system where your bosses told you (firmly) what was right and wrong.
- You didn’t sell the products that were sent to you
- When on a review trip to a hotel/spa you didn’t take the p*** and order the most expensive champagne and bring five mates.
- You treated the staff with respect.
- You treated PRs with courtesy and respect.
- You were on time for meetings.
- If you got in a cab with someone of senior rank to you, you chose the backwards-facing seat.
- You wrote thank you notes.
- You returned samples in a decent condition
Some of the rules are now out dated (i.e. don’t talk to the editor in the lift if you are an intern), but lots served a purpose. Now the landscape has changed. A decade or so ago it was all about fighting to get a job on the twenty or so prestigious magazines or the top ten papers. That was how you kickstarted your career. Now staff jobs on these titles are rarer than hen’s teeth. So lots of new writers have skipped that all together and are publishing blogs or skipping straight to freelancing. Which is great in some ways, but it does mean they miss the training, and that they don’t absorb the rules from their elders. Should they know them instinctively? I’m sure some do, but sometimes it takes a nudge from PRs. In fact sometimes we all need to be reminded of them.
I received a card a few months ago offering me complimentary hair services in a salon. It said (very politely) if you need to cancel you appointment please do so well in advance and please tip staff. Fair enough.
I’m all for PRs laying out a few boundaries where they are needed. Everyone likes clarity. It’s often best received if it’s generalised. For instance a sheet that accompanies all press trips laying out what is and isn’t included. It’s harder of course when it’s more nuanced. But I think addressing cheeky or bad behaviour calmly and cooly is the right way forward.
Another thing that has peaked my interest this week is the fight against the #classceiling. It looks at the discrimination of the working classes in the media. As a Brummie I know many of my friends have faced discrimination due to their Midlands twang. Clever, creative, talented people whose careers are limited by the way they talk. I applaud Common People for shining a light on it.
“This release is a clever way to remind journalists of a brand. It has a newsy editorial vibe, communicates the company’s values and is clearly laid out. It’s a good mix of information (candle sales up 300%) and new product launches, plus informative quotes from the founder on the rituals that’ll get us through lockdown.”