PR Fail – a collection of bad things :(

How did we live before PR Fail?

A Tumblr blog, it takes Twitter postings or del.icio.us bookmarks tagged with “prfail” or “uselesspr” in an attempt it says here, “to help PR people be better and give journalists and bloggers a way of sharing their bad experiences. As well as just collecting examples of bad PR in one handy place for case studies and things.”

That’s nice.

I’m sure that the dedicated PR people I work with day in day out need to have their bars raised. I’m certain that the people I left behind at Fleishman-Hillard tonight, as I clocked off at 6:45pm, will appreciate being told they can ‘be better’. And I’m almost – but not quite – unshaken in my belief that bad experiences are most definitely the best way to learn.*

Still, it’s a laugh, right?

It would be even funnier if I could actually see who set it up. I can’t be certain, but I have a feeling it could be the first person to have posted on it. Perhaps someone should mail and ask.

So, just to add to the mirth, and for total transparency, I now have it displayed in an RSS widget to the right of this page. Oh, how my sides will ache as the floodgates open. Look, it’s already had, ummm, two posts… four days ago (at time of posting)…

* irony

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19 thoughts on “PR Fail – a collection of bad things :(

  1. Hey Brendan – yep, it was me that set up PR Fail – as a “see what happens thing’ . Head on over here for a bit more info. You’re the first to embed an RSS widget . . . great idea ! Think I might create one . . thanks for the mention too.

  2. Mmmmkay… so long as the irony in my post wasn’t *too* disguised.

    I’m not actually a total fan of PR Fail, truth be told. I think there’s enough PR panning around, as you can see in the ‘Possibly related posts’ automagic thingy at the end of my post.

  3. Surely there’s a better way to deal with this issue than to flag up individual names and pitches in a collection of 160 character Tweets? Certainly, a huge proportion of the worlds PRs have a lot to learn about social media and working with bloggers. But how does PR Fail benefit either side of the fence and move things towards a better state of affairs?

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  5. OK, let’s try http://prwins.tumblr.com/.

    There’s also http://prwin.tumblr.com/ but while it’s up, and it’s probably a better name, it doesn’t appear to be running just yet.

    Mind you, PR Fail doesn’t seem too healthy either. I’ve tested it and it doesn’t seem to pick up the required del.icio.us tags. It didn’t pick up PR Wins, for example!

    So, PR Fail fails? Let’s see if PR Win wins. Or PR Wins wins. It’s a win/wins situation.

  6. Ha ha – re-reading, the irony becomes clearer.

    It was set up as a ‘see what happens thing’ and so far a few journos have been using it and a few people including you have blogged about it or tagged it. I’m sure reading my blog posts about it you’ll have got a better idea of the thinking behind it.

    I also set up PR Win – to restore the balance, just before heading off overseas (back today). When I get a mo I’ll set that up properly so that the feed works – as you’ll see on PR Fail (News section) – I was using FeedBlendr to do del.icio.us and Twitter at the same time but it went offline (hence the gap in submissions and the fact that the feed only pulls in Tweets).

    What are you using to feed PR Wins? I’ll go ahead and do it anyway for completeness sake and link the 2 sites together.

    Then I guess we sit back and ‘see what happens’.

    Paul – journalists and bloggers have always been negative about PR on Twitter – this just pulls that together in one place and hopefully gets people talking/thinking more about accountability and avoiding silly bad things in PR – helping to improve perception of PR on the web and making everyone facing up to reality – even if it is a bit harsh.

  7. Ah, all becomes clearer. I was surprised someone had already set up PR Win! I thought I’d had a Really Cool Idea by setting up PR Wins!

    OK, I like the idea of the balance and, as you say, the two might work together well and ultimately come together (maybe via Friendfeed rooms?) It could be an interesting hard man/soft man approach.

    To feed PR Wins I just bring in the feeds direct into the tumblr blog (Dashboard/Customize/Feeds), from summize searches for mentions of prwins and usefulpr, and del.icio.us feeds for those two tags, so that’s four feeds in total:

    http://feeds.delicious.com/rss/tag/prwins
    http://feeds.delicious.com/rss/tag/usefulpr
    http://search.twitter.com/search.atom?q=prwins
    http://search.twitter.com/search.atom?q=usefulpr

    If you wanted more control over all this you could probably aggregate the four feeds using Google Reader or Yahoo Pipes then push them through Feedburner.

  8. Awesome – really don’t know why but I assumed without trying that Tumblr, like lots of other stuff, imported just one feed and you would need Y! Pipes/Feedblendr etc to merge them all – all set up now and will go and do PR Win and link the 2 sites together.

  9. For absolute clarity, you’re referring to Damien Mulley’s submission, right?

    My position on this is that, indeed, it wasn’t a particularly clever thing to do. Lots of companies have done not particularly clever things though, right? I imagine journalists have screwed up in the past. I know I have.

    But, that isn’t why I’m not keen on PR Fail.

    I just feel that there is a pervasive culture of stamping on PR whenever anything goes wrong, but, because there’s a belief that PR depends on pretty much everyone for its daily crust, it’s fair game: PR keeps shtum.

    Sure, flacks need hacks, but hacks need flacks too, right? And business needs us too – just ask any company that’s had a PR crisis, eg Ratners.

    So, sites like PR Fail just make me kind of sad cos I don’t think they’re really necessary. I know you’re saying they’ll help us learn to be better, but I’m not sure public disapprobation is the way forward.

    Anyhoo, we’ve got PR Wins now to redress that balance. And I think the debate here is pretty healthy too, not least because you’ve stepped in and contributed.

    It’ll be interesting to see how this pans out.

  10. That’s the one yep. Maybe we need some sort of way of seeing what the Fail v Win balance is ? And as the guys over at Beam pointed out – a way of enabling people to comment on the submissions?

    To be honest – it started out as something that took a few minutes to set up and has since given me first hand experience of the power of an idea or a tool and the implications of it.

    As you say though, let’s keep talking and keep an eye on what happens. Be good to get more people involved too so that it doesn’t feel like we’re each representing each side of the debate.

    Oh – we should meet up soon as well. Be really good to chat through things a bit more informally.

  11. Comments would be good – and I like the idea of PR Fail/Win ie is PR winning or failing *right now*? I have a graphic of a see-saw in my head, or scales. If we could put something together that enables this, even just as numbers, it would be cool. I shall put my thinking cap on this weekend (the one with the propeller on top).

  12. Yeah I see what you mean Jonathan, kind of a Private Eye 2.0 for bad pitches..!

    As a PR person it does make me wince to read and hear about what some of my peers do, but then taking a step back and looking at it from an objective point of view I guess you have to remember that the PR industry is like my grandad. Really old, really big and doesn’t deal with a rapid change in circumstances very well.. 😀

    It’s a difficult time PR is going through. Those of us with a passion for the interweb are enjoying the transition and all the cool stuff we get to do, the rest are a couple of steps behind and – as with any learning curve – mistakes get made along the way. As more and more PRs start to reach out online, the number of mistakes seems to be rising. Admittedly a lot of the ones we read about are careless (and make me want to get shouty), but I think the key to making this work between us all is positive education.

    Over and above the Tumblr feeds, could we establish a best practice wiki? There are lots of people with lots of opinions and pieces of advice to offer, so why not crowd source the ultimate guide for PRs – get everyone to share the good, the bad and the ugly. Perhaps construct a constitution or a declaration we can all sign up to?

  13. Get thinking Brendan, definitely. I shall do the same and I know Ben Matthews is keen to get involved too.

    Paul – surely such a thing exists already? I probably have something tagged in the ever growing pot of links that is my del.icio.us account?! I have a vision of conducting quick short snappy interviews with journos, with tips to avoid a PR Fail and some sort of ‘blogger approved’ list of do’s and don’ts . . . . as well as just a really useful list of resources. I can definitely feel a UK wiki coming on but want to make sure we wouldn’t be replicating something already in existence. PS where do you live online?

  14. OK, the way I see this working is:

    * It needs to be as simple and accessible as Twitter or del.icio.us or Digg. That is, it needs to be something that people can ‘vote’ on during their everyday online lives. If they like it, they vote yes. If not, no.

    * It needs to have an immediate, simple metric, centre and front, writ large. So, it needs to have something at the top that basically says whether PR is winning or losing. A graphic? A number? A score?

    * People need to be able to comment on every entry. Each and every entry can ellicit debate.

    We could be onto something here. An immediate snapshot based on what PR stakeholders – that is, PR people, their clients, their consumers – feel is good or bad about PR right now.

    My feeling is that a wiki needs too much thought. People need to decide whether or not to contribute, what they’re going to say, etc.

    I guess what I’m saying is, we need Digg, but specifically for PR. If you like, a human-based, vertical search engine.

    OK, I really do need to put my thinking cap on.

  15. Jonathan – no current web home, bar twitter.com/pbizzle and the all the usual networks. I used to write a food blog but it died a death due to work commitments..

    We could create a community on Ning maybe, then hook in a feed from a dedicated Delicious tag to capture relevant and useful materials. Not sure on the ‘swing-o-meter’, let me look into it. I’m sure we can find or make a widget that simply counts the number of posts that drop in.

    Brendan – thinking caps (bring your ones with the propellor on top!) and beer..

  16. all good thinking – I reckon an RSS feed item counter might do it. But that means working out how to cut out the chatter items/tests both feeds are currently picking up.

    Whatever we do needs not to have been done before and needs to be a piece of pish to use.

    Brendan have you recently become a ‘thingy’ rather than a planner?

    Catch up when I get back from hols – remember I have the prfail.com domain as well – so we can use that if we think it’s right.

    And we should get Ben Matthews on board too – he seemed very keen.

  17. I recently moved to Fleishman-Hillard. I was a planner at Porter Novelli. ‘Thingy’ isn’t my official title at Fleishman but I prefer it somehow for this blog. I might change it sometime.

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