Deadly Sins: 7 ways to Commit PR Suicide

Seven Deadly Sins by ~GrieverFeatherz via DeviantArt

As public relations professionals, we tend to naturally be extroverted, enthusiastic and excellent communicators. We tend to rattle on and on thinking that everyone is similar to us: they are listening to us and they like us.

Well…no, not really, sometimes people wish that we would just shut up and stop being so chummy.
Often, we need a dose of our own medicine.

  • 1. Luxuria: I love you man!

You don’t love me, I don’t love you and we just met.

I know we’re a super enthusiastic, happy-sort of people – but, keep in mind that there are boundaries.

I’m not talking sexually (though, I suggest you keep work and play separate), but rather, merely stating that in the real world, outside of PRlandia, relationships are built over time, nurtured with experience and built upon existing trust. There is no place for overindulgence.

Don’t scare away your potential friends, colleagues or peers by trying to be the Gilligan to their Skipper too soon.

  • 2. Acedia: Light Speed Ahead!

Technology is here to help you, not bite your neck and suck out your blood like Edward Cullen on a bad day.

Don’t be scared of technology. Rather, utilize it for what it can do. Embrace technology for what it cannot do, but, what you can make it do for you.

Learn it; love it; use it. Period.

Envy Close up by GrieverFeatherz. All Rights Reserved.

  • 3. Superbia: Everybody loves ME!

Do not push your client’s agenda on every audience hoping to find your target audience somewhere in there.

It’s pushy, it’s obnoxious, it gives the rest of us a bad name and heck, overtime, we’ll begin to hate you for making our jobs twice as difficult. Just like in every profession, word travels – we know who you are, what your ‘agenda’ is and we won’t befriend you ( you may just think we are.)

Do not alienate your own kind by making them despise you. We have enough to battle as it is. Put your ego aside and do some research.

You are public relations professional, you listen to suggest, you communicate to engage and you aren’t from the Dark Side. Remember that.

Avarice Close up by GrieverFeatherz. All Rights Reserved.

  • 4. Gula: I’m here! I’m here! Me! Me! Me!

No matter how much you think you are Captain Kirk and your public relations project is the U.S.S. Starship Enterprise on speed, where you just want to explore and touch everything – just remember you are more like Mary Poppins to the Banks children.

You do not control ‘the message.’ Your job is to facilitate the knowledge of it by engaging your audiences in a two-way, symmetrical means of communication. That’s why it’s call ‘communication.’

Public relations professionals smooth the progress of messages. We do not control them. Controlling a message is asymmetrical, one-way communication aka propaganda.

The sooner you learn the difference, the sooner the ‘audience’ will actually RESPOND to your ‘message.’

Gluttony Close Up by GrieverFeatherz. All Rights Reserved.

  • 5. Avaritia: 2.0, Social Media and progress – jump for joy!

Just as audiences are different, the channels you use to communicate your message to audiences are different.

Put it this way, while Twilighters and Potterheads might both love to read, have young adult literary tastes and enjoy the adventures of the fantastical creatures we only dream of – at the end of the day, one group prefers wizards to vampires and they always will, vice-versa.

While, occasionally, they do overlap, they are inherently different.

Social media, the newest technological, communicative tool is a tool, not just another channel.

Your channels are not your tools, do not be lazy by grouping everything together. Do not be self-indulgent by trying to pacify your laziness. It’s not all about you. If you think it is, you’ve chosen the wrong career path.

  • 6. Invidia: Love, love, love

Public relations is about stewardship, it’s about the love and it’s about relationships. That’s why it’s called ‘public relations’ – relationships between publics. Get it?

If someone does something for you, send them a thank you card. If you don’t hear from someone in regards to an issue, follow up with them.

Don’t burn your bridges to ashes and do not go around spreading bad karma because you are jealous, cranky or simply do not understand.

If you just don’t get it? ASK.

You cannot participate in a healthy relationship if you are resentful, constantly suspicious or arrogant. No one will love you back, and if you find someone who does, they might be more messed up than you. Keep that in mind.

  • 7. Ira: Argh!!!

You are responsible for your content.

Not every reader is an informed reader.

If you have something to say, say it. But just make sure you own up to it.

Inflicting your beliefs or feelings about a subject to the unsuspecting person is irresponsible and downright sneaky. Your hidden agenda, bad or good (subjective), should stay that way – hidden.

You are not Naomi Campbell, the people around you are not your personal assistants. If you have an issue, deal with it like the adult that you are.

While, it’s important to look out for the ‘me,’ there is a time and a place for everything.

Be conscious of your surroundings because you never know who is truly paying attention to you.

Wrath Closeup by GrieverFeatherz. All Rights Reserved.

We all slip and fall, it’s natural. The thing is, when you do, learn from your mistakes and keep going. No one is going to excommunicate you from J-Schoolworld if you trip and take a tumble. Just don’t be a repeat offender.

Know what you have, what you can do, what’s out there and work with it.

Don’t commit a deadly sin or you will die a most painful, horrid death and Hades will come to get you himself…

…no not really, but you will probably hurt your career in more ways than you can think.

You were hired for a reason. Be true to yourself, your profession, keep it simple and be real.

This is part three of the ‘Suicide Series:’

*Special thanks to Beth Harte and the folks who participate in #pr20chat weekly on Twitter for providing the inspiration for this piece. Another special thanks to Professor Danny Shipka (who oozes PR awesomeness) for being a fantastic educator and providing the basis for this post.*


Sasha Muradali runs the ‘Little Pink Book’ . She holds a B.S. in Public Relations from the University of Florida and an M.A. in International Administration from the University of Miami. She loves Twitter and all things social media, so you should find her @SashaHalima.

Copyright © 2009 Sasha H. Muradali. All Rights Reserved.


  1. I love the creativity of the message here. Props!

  2. One of the most insightful posts I’ve read in some time. Great info, Sasha. The part I want to highlight is simple, yet often overlooked – if you don’t understand, ASK.

    This is especially important early in your career. Develop a great network and don’t be afraid to ask questions. Those who are experience and passionate about this industry are more than willing to give advice and mentor. Seek those people out and learn.