by Conrad Updog
In a shock to people at least vaguely familiar with what a public relations specialist actually does for a living, the U.S. News & World Report recently ranked "public relations specialist" No. 1 on its list of The Best Creative Jobs of 2015.
PRNewser reported the news Tuesday, noting that the ranking was based on the job's high wages and employment rates rather than the amount of creativity required to do it.
While we don't quibble with the idea that PR is an occupation that pays fairly well, we do take issue with the claim that it is creative in any way.
Try as he or she might to justify their choice of careers, the honest PR pro knows that their job is more about doing a series of mostly useless tasks on repeat than actual creativity.
Certainly, the job doesn't include any of the sincere self-expression we typically associate with creative work. Rather, PR is instead a profession predicated on false expression on the behalf of someone else, usually a corporation.
If you have any doubt, ask yourself this: What, exactly, do public relations specialists actually create? Here are our best guesses:
- Spam -- In the form of millions of identical, unread pitches sent daily to journalists around the world.
- Excuses -- No PR pro's skillset is complete without the ability to justify his or her existence to a client despite very rarely accomplishing anything tangible.
- Lies -- Both in the explicit lie told "off the record" to a reporter and the implicit one told every time an inconvenient question is side-stepped or redirected.
- Confusion -- In its write-up of the rankings, PRNewser pointed to a recent stunt by The Verge as evidence of how PR can be creative. If you're unfamiliar, the tech site duped reporters into thinking it had purchased a national TV ad during the Super Bowl when it had in fact purchased a $700 ad to air only in Helena, Montana. Clever? Yes. Creative? Not really.
- Shareholder Value -- At the end of the day, this is the only reason for-profit PR jobs exist: to protect the reputation of companies so that they can make the most money possible for their shareholders. Anyone who thinks otherwise is delusional.