PR used to get a bad rap. The industry reputation was of PR darlings necking Bolly, while indulging in long lunches and doing very little in the way of genuine work.
Eddie from Absolutely Fabulous, the fictional incarnation of PR guru Lynne Franks and living embodiment of the PR stereotype, only reinforced this image. Go into any reputable PR agency nowadays and the majority of the staff will be scratching their heads over this outdated perception.
Champagne has been exchanged with water, long lunches switched to dining al desko, and PRs are used to working long, challenging hours. However, despite (or perhaps because of) the pandemic, we have for the first time in over a decade started to see a real hunger from journalists to network and socialise with PRs.
While we are a far cry from the hedonistic Ab Fab ‘glory’ days, journalists welcome invites to escape their desks. With an increased number of editorial teams and freelancers working from home, work-related invites have an appeal that was lost and hard to justify on top of a demanding work-day and long commutes.
This is welcome news to PRs as it means we are able to build and develop relationships with journalists in a way that simply sending emails back and forth is challenging to do. The concept of a ‘little black book’ brimming with contacts is a reality once more. This shift back to more personable relationships is also extending to press trips and we are seeing a renewed enthusiasm for attending them from journalists and influencers alike.
The crucial difference now is that journalists want to build this socialising into their lifestyles: rather than boozy lunches, our contacts would prefer to be briefed on a new product launch over a manicure, or over a coffee on the way to work, rather than interrupt the flow of their days. This is good news for us, our clients and the journalists who get to kill two birds with one stone.