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Dear reporters, I’m not the dirt bag you think I am

Matilda Schieren

Shallow. Annoying. Uninformed.

No one aspires to these labels. I know that a reputation revolving around these three words and their plethora of synonyms wasn’t what I dedicated four years and $160,000 to achieve.

So imagine my concern when, since entering the full-time world of public relations, I have been bombarded by countless studies, figures and even direct email responses touting the despicable nature of my industry, my occupation and, when you get right down to it, me.

Maybe I’m being sensitive. But while I am the girl that cries at every clip of soldiers reuniting with their kids (despite having no friends or family in active duty), I think anyone would be weary after enough constant reminders that no matter how great you are at your job, or how satisfied you make your clients, society renders you worthless.

Today Ad Age reported on a recent survey of over 1,000 consumers and marketing pros; the article mainly highlighted how marketing and advertising jobs are seen as holding less societal value than the work of bankers and politicians. It hit a little too close to home when they called out PR as the lowest of the low, with only 11% of respondents considering it a valuable career path.

How’s that for a morale boost?

In more ways than one, I understand the sentiment, and I recognize the things we media miscreants do to deserve the rep.

We ask bug you (reporters, editors, freelancers extraordinaire) to talk about our clients, even when you’ve never heard of them before. We continue to double check and see if you actually do want to write about them or speak with them until you tell us “No” (or a more pointed variation.) We don’t include “unsubscribe” buttons below our email signatures.

Sometimes, we make unforgivable human errors, like emailing you when we promised three months ago we would stop forever, or proposing a story idea related to something you wrote about (from an entirely different perspective) last week.

I’m not going to change the world’s perception of PR folk in one day, or one blog post, but to anyone who has ever fallen victim to my job description, or my industry in general, please accept my sincerest apology.

Our intentions, and grammar, are always good, even when our methods seem bad. We’re a persistent bunch, and we’ll never stop trying to do better by you.

Now, please excuse my abrupt exit – I have an email blast to queue up.