There are things that a publicist, or someone purporting to be a PR professional, will say that are instant red flags. If these statements don't sound quite right, that means they probably aren't. So you better ask the person who said them to clarify. That, or reserve your right to be a bit suspect.
I've heard certain people who claim to be/who act like PR people say a handful of things that cause my eyebrow to raise a little. These sayings indicate that they don't know what they are doing, that they aren't legit, or that they might be a poser. Four of the most questionable statements I've heard in some variation or another are below, and are what to be on the lookout for.
1. "You'll definitely get on the cover of [insert magazine name here]"
Has this cover been confirmed, in writing, with the magazine? Or is this simply a goal they will pursue? A cover is a hard get in most situations, so beware if it seems like your PR person is saying it's happening and right away.
2. "I'm totally friends with that writer"
Being "friends" with a writer doesn't always mean being real BFFs or that the writer will feel the need to do something for the publicist as his or her friend. Bro rates don't always apply, because writers have friends and they have bosses; there is only one servable master in that scenario. The "friend" term gets tossed around between people who don't hang out on weekends or even know each other's birthdays. But even if a publicist claims a friendship with a writer, that does not always indicate instant coverage.
3. "I'm going to make you famous while you sit back and relax"
Do I need to explain more? If I do, okay, fine. This isn't the movies. This isn't a cliché. This is real life. Making someone famous is certainly part of a publicist's efforts, and it is the squad goal. But the job is to tell the story and represent the music and the artist to the media. That is job number one. If your PR person doesn't have that viewpoint, well, you guys might not be on the same wavelength.
4. "OMG, I always post about my conversations on social media"
A real publicist isn't posting about conversations on social media. He or she is too busy making things happen to write about making things happen. This is also information best reserved for a report or a discussion with a manager. A lot of times, the publication doesn't want a publicist sharing correspondence anyway, so vague social media celebrations are best. Plus, a real publicist keeps things he or she is working on close to the vest and shares them with the team when ready. It's just not pro to be making so many blanket professional statements in that sphere.
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Amy Sciarretto has 20 years of print and online bylines, from Kerrang to Spin.com to Revolver to Bustle, covering music, beauty, and fashion. After 12 years doing radio and publicity at Roadrunner Records, she now fronts Atom Splitter PR, her own boutique PR firm, which has over 30 clients. She also is active in animal charity and rescue.