PR Insider: Why Can’t We All Just Get Along?

Last month, the New York Observer released its heralded “PR Power List” for 2014.

With much fanfare and uncorked champagne bottles, agencies scurried to their monitors hoping to find their agency logos emblazoned across the masthead. How’d that work out? Was your firm on the list? If so, let me guess: you were not as close to the top as you thought you would be. If not, perchance another guess: “WTH!?!? We are better than those fools! Where’s that reporter’s email?”

It’s funny because it’s true.

Shawn Paul Wood
Shawn Paul Wood

The one thing that list -- and so many others just like it -- show us is that diversity seems to be helping out PR quite a bit. From the global to the local, the newfangled to the old-fashioned, the evolving to the content, PR agencies of all shapes, sizes, and practices live together in a big stew of expertise. (If it were a melting pot, they would all look alike, and that certainly is not the case.)

So here’s the question: Why can’t we all just get along?

Some philosopher opined that a while back and it fits here. Regardless where your agency fits on the scale, what is it that prevents us from appreciating each other? I realize the spirit of competition will always exist, but why do we all have to be like that one dude who has a brief lapse of machismo, says “that’s a good looking guy,” and then proceeds to have a fart-and-fall-down moment like he just walked into a plate-glass window?

Smaller agencies are teaching the biggies how to do things in the world of scalability and innovation. Bigger agencies teach the boutiques to harness the practices that made us love this profession in the first place. Creatives teach traditionals. The old codgers mentor the newbies (or at least, they should).

What is so bad about one agency lifer complementing the skills of another?

Now, before you write an epilogue in the comments, we all know there are many rotten apples in the PR bunch. People you wish would stop working in this position and find something that’s more befitting to their personality, like working at a rock quarry in Mongolia. While you consider the several people who will not be on your Christmas list at “those agencies,” there are just as many people doing that to your agency. And even you made a list or two.

It’s like any other profession, kids. People rock. People suck. And the world keeps on spinning.

If you see something savvy elsewhere other than your own four walls, appreciate it. If you see an award-winning campaign, research why and work to emulate that for one of your clients. Every time you see laudable achievements for the other guy, and you sit in your cube farm grumbling, “Well, I could have done that,” it opens the door for the other guy to stick out his tongue and say, “Well, you didn’t.”

If you stop long enough to enjoy the finer things of this craft, you may live long enough to contribute to it. We all do it. Now, it’s time we all stop. How will that work out in 2015? We shall soon see.

Shawn Paul Wood is a 20-year veteran of traditional and digital public relations, as well as a former radio news director and on-air talent. He is a managing account digital strategist for Ketchum PR. Follow Shawn: @shawnpaulwood