What Happened To Etiquette in PR?

One of the first things I wanted to teach my children was how to say “Please” and “Thank you.” Manners have the ability to take you where education, training, and experience may not. As the saying goes, “People may forget what you said, but they will always remember how you made them feel.” This could not be more true than when it comes to the business of marketing and public relations.

etiquette in PR
photo credit: stevendepolo via photopin cc

While recently having coffee with a colleague, we lamented at the shared experiences we ‘ve recently experienced with our respective clients. Marketing and PR professionals showcase businesses and organizations for their products or services in various media for a living. Whether the coverage is media-based or perhaps it is a simple word-of-mouth referral, often this brief mention can give said company a boost in business or influx of donations or volunteers due to the great press.

In the digital age, however, it would appear that some individuals have lost their sense of etiquette in PR. Public relations is the building and nurturing of an important relationship. The relationship of trust and respect between writer and subject is a delicate one. And yet the art of saying “Thank you” is seriously waning.

Not saying thank you is not just gauche, it’s bad business. It is proper and polite to acknowledge whenever someone does something positive for your business. Sometimes an email will suffice. There are also online services such as Thankster that send automated cards. But some prefer a more personal approach. This is why it’s smart to have thank you cards on hand. Short and sweet is perfectly acceptable. Do remember to include a few personal details. For example: Thank you so much for featuring our widget in your annual holiday gift guide. The article was very helpful for last minute shoppers. I’ve already bought the last widget you highlighted. Thanks again!

The rule is simple really: Say “Thank you” in some form to every single PR professional and journalist (for our purposes this includes writers and bloggers) who write about you and your business. Every single time we get a client coverage we ensure we take the time to thank the individuals involved (this can include photographers, producers, etc.). We often receive emails  from recipients thanking us for taking the time to acknowledge their hard work. During these conversations, they have asked us what else we’re working on and to keep them posted as we require additional coverage. See how simple that is?

Don’t be afraid to get creative. Try to make your gesture personal. You are nurturing a relationship after all. And before you seal that envelope enclose a business card or takeaway item to further brand awareness. Make yourself accessible to those who have helped you and don’t forget to help them remember you. Tend to these relationships and you will see your business blossom.

Susie Parker
With more than 20 years experience in restaurant, retail, education and health care industries Susie Erjavec Parker launched SPARKER Strategy Group to bring businesses up-to-speed on how to integrate social media. SPARKER Strategy Group specializes in the intersection of traditional and digital/social marketing and PR. As a specialty marketer to women and families, Parker also serves as a business coach to mompreneurs and women business owners. Susie is the founder of WIN: Women | Influence | Networking—a budding networking group that promotes and connects female entrepreneurs and their businesses with referrals and recommendations. She is a Starbucks addict and often experiences “ghost vibrations” in her back right pocket--even as she is talking on her iPhone.
Susie Parker


  1. Judy Waytiuk says

    The lines have blurred substantively in the last twenty years over this sort of thing. Used to be standing, unspoken rules that journalists did not take "freebies" and even a "thank you" for coverage implied the journalist had displayed a lack of objectivity in favour of whatever the PR firm was promoting. I would still feel very uncomfortable with even a "thank you", although I do make it a practice to send tear sheet copies when I've written about a destination I visited in a press trip.

    • says

      Hi Judy, thank you for your comments. The thing about a thank you is that the reporter, writer, or blogger need not "accept" anything as a gift–it's the token nod of appreciation for a job well done. PR practitioners are always taught be helpful and accommodating of the fast-moving world of journalism and I know in my experiences I appreciate the time and attention any reporter, editor, writer, or blogger pays to my client. And I'm going to make sure I say "Thank you" even if it's quick and simple. It makes me feel more professional when I show respect to other professionals.

  2. Gettysburg Gerry says

    I still to this day stop and open the door for women and seniors, I can just feel my mother looking my shoulder ready to smack the back of my head if I don't. We were raised with that, respect and I am glad for it, passed it on to my own children…

  3. says

    Susie, thank you for this post! As someone who has earned the distinction of AARP qualified but still activly engage in civic and online actives I to am concerned with absences of maners. Just be curtious and lower the intensity a bit. I am not an auto responder but understand its place just seems to me that it aids into the lose or downplay of civility.

  4. npj1125 says

    Nice post. When I was doing media relations, I always made it a point to thank a journalist for covering a story I pitched. I just felt it was appropriate and just good manners. But common decency seem to be waning as the years go on. It's nice to read a post and see that some folks think good manners are always in vogue.

  5. eilidheclat says

    Hi Susie! A great post. Good manners gets you a long way in PR and is essential when it comes to building relationships.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *