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PR Grouch shares his tips on how not to behave in the workplace

4th September 2013


We are all used to journalists and clients being rude to us, but as we’re beholden to them, we just put up with it. My boss has terrible manners too. Not only does she take our draft press releases to the loo to read, but she will quite happily floss her teeth in front of us (but not our clients, thankfully).

When I was a journalist, I was amazed at how rude PROs (and especially their clients) could be. And I have also noticed that some of the younger members of our profession could do with a few lessons in etiquette. Here is my list of 10 unacceptable behaviours in your PR jobs:

1. Talking on the phone when in a meeting. This definitely has to go top of the list. If you are in a meeting, or taking someone out for lunch, turn it off and put it away. And that goes for your phone too.

2. Turning up late. Unforgivable. There is a simple trick to being punctual. You give yourself more than enough time to get somewhere and you don’t overload your diary.

3. Forgetting names. People do quite like it if you call them by the correct name. And if you are meeting a journalist, please get the publication title right too.

4. Looking bored. Not all contacts are exciting, but it’s rude to yawn, look over their shoulder or leave early.

5. Being ungracious. Put your guest first. Open the door for them, for example. And if you have invited them to your office, please don’t scoff all the best sandwiches first. And if you do, please keep your mouth closed.

6. Telling inappropriate jokes. Not everyone has a dirty sense of humour, so be aware of your audience.

7. Not listening. Don’t talk over other people, listen first then reply, it’s not difficult (although I am often guilty of this one, I confess).

8. Dialling a wrong number and then putting down the phone without speaking. Or perhaps that’s just something people do to me?

9. When writing emails, take the time to check your spelling and don’t use annoying abbreviations. Even if you are writing it on your BlackBerry.

10. TMI (Too Much Information!). Not everyone wants to know about your relationship with your parents, your latest visit to the doctor or your addiction to Valium. Well I do, but I’m horribly nosey. You should also avoid asking too many personal questions (I put my hand up to this one too).


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