Why PR’s big-data, geek-laden rhetoric makes me cringe

Dear PR Industry.

It’s ok, we get it. Times are changing and PR needs to change too. But, please, for the love of god, stop with the “Future of PR rests with Geeks and Big Data” angle.

It smacks of desperation, misunderstanding and a genetic desire to associate yourself with the latest zeitgeist.

In your imagination you think that bringing someone to a pitch with a “data analyst” title is going to impress me. The reality is that it’s like listening to my five-year old daughter trying to be grown-up by using words she’s heard adults use, but that she doesn’t quite understand.

You throw the world “geek” around like a badge of honour, applying it to anyone with a Twitter account and an iPhone. And if one more agency pitches me with Big Data credentials, only to explain that what they really mean is that they have an intern that can use Excel I might very well implode.

I’ve just read this and it made me feel sorry for you. I know you are relevant, but throwing buzz words at the problems is not the answer. Heck, this post even tells PR professionals to develop their big data skills by taking a course in Excel.

Excel? Really?

Yes, we need a different skillset in the industry. Measurement is vital and the ability to extract a story from data correlation is hugely advantageous, but it doesn’t make people geeks, it makes them effective workers who have skilled themselves for the 21st Century.  The ability to craft a “countif” statement in Excel is not big data and it doesn’t make you a geek. It just makes you employable.

NB – PR industry, I say this because I love you.



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