Aside from a piece in The Daily Dog, I haven't seen much coverage of a recent Adobe/ Edelman Berland jobs survey that asked 1,000 consumers and marketing executives to name the most and least respected professions in our country.
As one would expect, teachers, scientists and engineers topped the list. But, get this, instead of bankers, lawyers and insurance salesmen (my personal bete
noire) bringing up the rear, PR executives finished dead last (trailing even politicians!).
My friends, we toil for the least admired profession in America. Even Heidi Fleiss, Anthony Weiner and Honey Boo Boo seem to engender more positive feelings than we PR pros.
As JFK said in the aftermath of the Bay of Pigs disaster, “Success has many fathers. Failure is an orphan.” As a result, I don't think we'll see many industry experts or pundits weigh-in with witty, insightful reasons as to why we're thought of less highly than a Yankees fan at a Red Sox game.
So, I thought I'd fill the gap.
Here are my top five reasons why PR is America's least respected job:
1.) Heidi Montag-Pratt (of the pseudo-reality TV show, 'The Hills') and all of her bubble-headed, gum-chewing, party-planning nitwit peers in dumbed-down TV and movie plots have convinced Americans we're a bunch of dumb, spoiled brats.
2.) Our top trade publications read like 'The Lives of the Saints.' Were a space alien to visit planet earth and rely solely on PR media to judge our profession, the E.T. in question would assume PR people are singlehandedly ending poverty, hunger and war while simultaneously spending every waking moment doing good for the rest of mankind.
3.) Our leading trade associations spend more time handing out lifetime achievement awards than in advocating on the industry's behalf.
4.) We're more obsessed with beating advertising, and winning the client's total marketing spend than in explaining WHY PR is the most transparent, credible and trusted communications medium (the Adobe survey results notwithstanding, of course).
5). Our colleges and universities continue to stock their classrooms with young, white females who aspire to, yes Virginia, become party planners. So, in the immortal words of Pogo, we have met the enemy and he is us.
For all of the hoopla and feel-good stories being pumped out by our trade media, the amazing array of strategic work we do is either being misunderstood or ignored by the next generation. It's an inconvenient truth that, for whatever reason, we're simply sweeping under the rug. Instead, we should be brainstorming ways to stem the tide and change America's misperceptions of PR.
This is a self-fulfilling prophecy that, unless we act now, will one day result in our actually becoming an industry dominated by dim-witted, party-planning nitwits such as Samantha Jones, Jonathan Cheban and Kelly Cutrone.
I can see it now. “Ladies and gentlemen, a big round of applause please for the recipient of the 2040 PRSA Lifetime Achievement Award, Ms. Heidi Montag-Platt!”