Timeout! Four Common Professional Blunders

Aimee Baxter  Follow

Smart Phone EtiquitteI think the business/PR world needs a timeout (myself included). Over the last few weeks, a number of bad behaviors have dawned on me and it never hurts to remind myself and others about simple basics that can go a long way:
  1. Smart Phone Etiquette: New Yorkers are the worst offenders of looking at their smart phones mid-conversation. So many times when I’m speaking with clients, colleagues or friends/family I look-up, mid-sentence, to find the person thumbing through their smart phone. Checking emails is just like taking a phone call in the middle of a conversation. If you have to look, simply excuse yourself first.
  2. Press releases: By the very nature of its name, we forget who the primary audience is—the press. Press releases should be written so that journalists can see the story in the headline and first two sentences. More often than not, we’ve become too focused on writing speculative headlines, flogging products and executive quotes discussing how “innovative” they are. As PR professionals, we use a lot of empty words that sound great, but don’t really say anything and journalists (or at least good ones) can sniff this out immediately. I also understand the value of search engine optimization (SEO) and a press release is a form of content that helps push a company up in search. However, I’ve seen some release cross my desk that look more like a smurf drooled on it than a professionally written document to a member of the media. Since when does SEO strategy trump a press release strategy? It all comes back to remembering who your audience is.
  3. Presentations: Conciseness and OMG, LMOA—what does that mean? I recently sat through a presentation that was 85 slides long... We didn’t even get through half of it. The lead presenter also used the above acronyms without ever explaining exactly what it meant. That distracted me through most of the presentation. Instead of paying attention to what he was discussing, I sat there trying to guess what it meant.
  4. Brevity: Bullet points—I love them (and so do journalists and clients)!
This might all seem like common sense, but you’d be surprised how many of these naughty behaviors I see (and probably do myself) on a weekly basis, if not daily. Can you think of any other common blunders? CJP

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