Five Ridiculous Things I’ve Had To Do in my PR Career

By October 6, 2011Public Relations

I write this as a cautionary note; an open letter to college students thinking of a career in PR and others, dissatisfied with current careers who think that communications might be the way to go, for them.

Perhaps not.

The following are actual activities in which I’ve taken part or been involved with either under duress or voluntarily.

  1. I created, with help, the world’s largest bouquet of flowers, thus earning a Guinness Book World Record
  2. I had to dress up as Mickey Mouse for a store grand opening event, except NOT in a Mickey Mouse costume but in an unlicensed mouse knock-off costume. The head smelled terrible. From the inside.
  3. I’ve had to pitch “not news” as news to media outlets because clients/the agency that gave me a paycheck demanded it.
  4. I gave cigarettes to schoolchildren on playgrounds. did government relations work on behalf of a tobacco company.
  5. I mailed (via the U.S. Postal Service) news releases printed on pink paper to media outlets across the country.

Sort of reads like a list of confessions, doesn’t it?

How about you? What ridiculous moments have you had on your work journey?

15 Comments

  • SuzanneHenry says:

    Oh, my. I recognize this list. When I was VP of communications for a national trade association, the president “made” me pretend I was a “back up” singer (with 2 female board members) during a musical number by the touring cast of Chicago (the broadway musical) who were entertaining the 1600 attendees at their national convention. To this day I cannot believe how adamant he was about us helping “entertain” the crowd.

  • Marijean says:

    @SuzanneHenry Love it! Glad I’m not alone in this category.

  • Marijean says:

    @SuzanneHenry Love it! Glad I’m not alone in this category.

  • JasonMerrill says:

    I have:

    1) Dressed up in an inflatable sun costume

    2) Showed off my newly diagnosed toe fungus on the news

    3) Used my children to call an upset reporter that I was sorry I ruined their exclusive

    I have done the children thing a couple of times. It’s surprisingly effective.

  • Lisa Gerber says:

    Ok, but please don’t judge me. I have:

    Packaged snowballs in a cooler, and brought those to the city to have an on-air snowball fight for the news.

    Launched a Got Snow? ad and PR campaign. (and therefore left and got myself a new gig)

  • amcneely37 says:

    This is a great list, and Lisa I love yours. I’m sure I could think of other things, but the chart-topper is Fed-Exing breast milk on dry ice so it got to an out-of-town guest’s home before her flight did.

  • Marijean says:

    @Lisa Gerber Judge? Never! I think these experiences make us better people. We grow and we vow never to do them again. 🙂

  • Marijean says:

    @JasonMerrill HA! You reminded me that I once dressed my son up as Harry Potter for a TV appearance related to a work promotion. No shame!

  • Marijean says:

    @amcneely37 The breast milk thing is impressive. I once was asked to inject a boss with fertility drugs while her husband was out of town. I declined.

  • amcneely37 says:

    You should have declined and told her that’s what friends are for. 🙂

  • AbbieF says:

    I’ve always said you haven’t really arrived as a PR practitioner until you’ve had to wear a mascot costume…I have had the distinct pleasure of being a duck, a golf ball (at a booksigning for Vice President Dan Quayle no less) and an ostrich.

    I have driven around town at 9 o’clock at night, looking for a tuna fish sandwich and a quadruple espresso for an already over-caffeinated author. I found it and he promptly ate the entire thing…in my car. But fortunately I had also found an all-night carwash so didn’t have to live with the tuna smell for too long.

  • ginidietrich says:

    Hmmmm…I can’t think of anything ridiculous I’ve had to do. I guess I’ve never arrived as a PR practitioner (cough, @AbbieF , cough) because I’ve never had to wear a costume.

    I have, however, spent an entire summer (Tuesday through Saturday) traveling from city to city giving juice samples to tourists. My arms were super buff that year because I had to move them from the truck to the location. Every day. Multiple times a day. I also weighed less than 100 pounds because it was so stressful and tiring.

    I also have gotten into a HUGE argument with a celebrity chef (who will go nameless) because we were in the deep, deep south and he wanted clarified butter. I tried explaining to him that he could make it, but he insisted I buy it. I had to drive 200 miles to find a Wal-Mart that didn’t laugh at me when I asked for clarified butter. Turns out, by the time I got back, said chef figured out I was right and had already made it.

  • BethMosher says:

    Wow – great topic! I guess I’m proud that I’ve never been a mascot, though I have been the PR handler for one – Jack Hammer, which was the PR mascot for a DOT construction project. I’ve also pitched many a product that was not 1.News 2. Useful 3. A significant upgrade from its original form. I have been the subject of a tech trade columnist’s tirade on PR people because I was responsible for promoting my client’s horribly-bad-unuseful new widget (not so proud of that). I have also had to cancel (and been flown home on client’s expense) many a vacation because an overzealous boss needed me RIGHT NOW. I’ve lived and learned through all these…

  • Marijean says:

    @AbbieF Oh Abbie — thanks for the laughs. I can’t even imagine why an ostrich, but I agree with you — it’s a true growth experience and I think @ginidietrich is totally missing out. Your tuna sandwich episode reminded me of the time I scoured a hotel looking for Diet Coke for Joan Lunden when the hotel only had Pepsi products during a Good Morning America shoot. That was fun!