Quoth the Raven
Some ramblings on my experiences with public relations

Backpacks and Bad PR

Everyone who knows me knows that I carry around a behemoth of a bag. It’s a laptop backpack, so it’s already bigger than normal, but it has so much padding and so many pockets that it often feels somewhat akin to giving a small child a piggyback ride all day.

I visit a chiropractor regularly, often going right from school. Yesterday, I pulled open the door of the clinic, shoulders hunching under the weight of my computer and my book, and gratefully swung the bag from my back and lay down on the table.

My chiropractor came over and began his adjustment. He was silent for a moment, and then said “Did you know that you’re not supposed to be carrying more than 15 per cent of your body weight on your back?”

He often comes out with interesting tidbits like this – last week he brought up a really interesting article on what families around the world spend on groceries – so I wasn’t fazed; I just relaxed back on the table and waited for the adjustment to continue. However, he then pointed to the giant backpack sitting next to me. “That,” he said, “is more than 15 per cent.”

I was shocked at the scolding. I know that the backpack is WAY too heavy for me to carry on a daily basis, but I thought it was no one’s problem but mine. But my chiropractor pointed out that I was wrong, and insisted that, if I was going to carry my whole life around with me, he would at least try to get me a backpack with more padding and support from one of his suppliers. While he was concerned for my well-being, he also had another very valid concern: “I won’t have someone working with me carrying around a bag that isn’t ergonomically and neurologically sound.”

I was a walking, talking case of horrible PR.

This got me thinking of how working in PR is a two-way street. Your clients depend on you to uphold and enhance their reputation in the public eye, but what happens if your client does something that compromises the values your company stands for? As practitioners, how do we keep this from happening, and what to we do if it does?

Any thoughts?

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2 Responses to “Backpacks and Bad PR”

  1. First of all, I am so happy that a professional finally told you to cut down on the stuff you carry on your back. That thing is out of control. Hopefully you’ll start to see an improvement too.

    Secondly, you have pinpointed the exact reason why PR agencies scare me. I know these issues can come up in other fields, but I just get the sense that you would have to deal with it on a regular basis with agencies. You are told to represent a long list of clients, most of whom you are assigned to (especially starting out). There is a lack of control that is out of my comfort zone. What if you have to represent a client who is unethical to you? It’s a tough call.

    P.s. watch me end up working in agency. Foot in mouth syndrome.

  2. I mentioned this issue in my blog a few posts ago. Mine is related to the video game industry, but it can apply to any industry really. Certain products or organizations really don’t deserve promotion, and others don’t merit large-scale promotion. It’s a hard call when your boss is telling you to do it, cause the agency needs to get paid.

    I’m sure we’ll all face a dilemma of this sort during our careers.


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