This week on Inside PR, Terry and David hold their first of many discussions on the myths of public relations. This week, they talk about the myth of the “PR agency sweatshop”. Also, they play this week’s contribution from Chris Clarke and Terry does his segment of Inside PRoper English.

Show Notes

00:33 Terry introduces the show. He invites listener feedback through email at [email protected], the comment line at 206-600-4741, or comment on the Inside PR show blog.

01:43 Terry reminds listeners that he recently posted a special edition of Inside PR with Esther Buchsbaum, co-founder of Communications Meca and the first ever Canadian chair of the Counselors Academy spring conference. Interested listeners can find the episode here on the Inside PR blog page.

02:20 Terry talks about a comment from Jamey Sheils on Inside PR #21.

03:30 David talks about a comment from Owen Lystrup.

06:21 David introduces a chat about the myths of the public relations. This week’s topic is the myth surrounding the “PR agency sweatshop.”

07:41 Terry makes it clear that there are fewer agency “sweatshops” than most believe.

10:28 David believes the “PR sweatshop” depends on the person’s perspective. He talks about his time years ago working long hours, but from his perspective, not in a sweatshop.

13:00 Terry doesn’t see the value of working new employees to the point of burnout. He defines it as a person working 10 hours a day, 5 days a week for months on end. He suggests that it would be in the firm’s and the employee’s longer term interest to hire a second consultant and split the 10 hours/day in two.

14:40 David thinks everyone should do their homework and know what they’re getting into before they join an agency.

18:33 David says that the long hours he worked early in his career has led to him being more efficient.

19:20 Terry mentions that there are far fewer “PR sweatshops” than most would think, but David says that there are a few “sweatshops” where it’s an owner and a group of interns. Terry agrees but doesn’t think that’s the way to build an agency, but these agencies do exist.

21:55 Terry mentions that he’s had a mere two all-nighters in his 18 years as a consultant.

22:20 David welcomes any stories relating to “PR sweatshops”.

23:11 Terry introduces and plays Chris Clarke‘s segment for the week.

26:09 Inside PRoper English for the week: the proper use of the word “none”

27:39 David closes the show and invites listener comments; through email at [email protected], on the comment line at 206-600-4741, or on the Inside PR show blog. Also, they welcome listeners to the Inside PR Blubrry site. Our theme music is Streetwalker by CJacks from the Podsafe Music Network. Roger Dey is our announcer.


  1. Hi there Terry and David –

    Good discussion on the podcast about busting the “agency as sweatshop” myth. In my experience folks at agencies can have pretty brutal time management skills. It stands to reason if you mess around with your buddies at work, go to Starbucks twice, write in your blog, tell everyone in the agency how much work you’ve got to do, take three smoke breaks and a long lunch you won’t have much time left for your billable hours.

    I’ve found the methods in David Allen’s wonderful book “Getting Things Done” very helpful in managing both workload and workflow in the “fast-paced”, “deadline-driven”, “client service” environment.

    Keep up the good work.

    – Leona

  2. Terry Author

    Thanks Leona. Time management is a challenge all PR consultants face, and failure on that front can unjustly make an agency look like a “sweatshop” from an outsider’s perspective. Good to hear from you.

  3. David, Terry (mostly David) –

    Thanks so much for your extremely complimenting comments. I’m flattered.

    And thanks for the good comments. I feel much more on track with what to look for in an agency.

    Two things:

    1. Yes, still a student. Not quite in the professional world yet. Almost to the point of looking for a job.

    2. I’ve gotten about three comments (I think) from your podcast, and every time you say my last name…it’s pronounced wrong. It’s not that I’m holding it against you. Logically it looks like it would be pronounced with a short i, as in “lid.” But the y in Lystrup is actually long. So it’s more like lie-strup. Lyyyystrup.

    Anyway, great podcast. You guys are much better than FIR (lately, anyway).

  4. Terry Author

    Thanks for the clarification on pronouncing your last name. I know how you feel. Dave never has issues with others mispronouncing his surname but I’m not so lucky. People almost always mispronounce my last name even within seconds of hearing it correctly pronounced. It’s uncanny. “Fall – iss.” Just as it’s spelled. But most people for some reason go with “Fal (rhymes with Al) – iss.” It doesn’t really bother me although I confess it does perplex me.

  5. I hope Sheville don’t read the comments here…. Lie-strup is a pretty good PR guy name, Owen, so you’ve got that going for you!

    And as far as names go, I’m always shocked when peope ask me how to spell it…there aren’t any variations on Jones.

  6. Gentlemen,
    Great podcast. It’s about time people starting cracking some myths about the PR industry. Sadly, there are still far too many people (especially these kids these days, I tell ya) who are looking to skate through a career without working. Same said people are usually the ones most shocked when they’re asked to leave. Not sure you know, but I was a non-traditional student (read: old) when I got my undergrad and therefore even…more non-traditional (read: older) when I got my Masters. So when I was applying for agency jobs with no agency experience at my age, they automatically assumed that I was looking for a cushy management position of pointing and “supervising.” My current boss flat out asked me during the interview if I was willing to do the work and not manage people. Hell yes, I’m ready to do the work. You called it a rite of passage to learn the ropes, but I call it paying my dues. How can you expect to counsel, strategize, supervise, and manage (people or campaigns) if you don’t understand how it all works down in the belly of the beast. Can I possibly use any more cliches in this comment? Great work, fellows. Keep it up. The two of you are contributing mightily to the PR field.
    ps. Terry, I didn’t misuse any words there did I? So afraid to leave audio comments now…

  7. Terry Author

    Hey Luke, always great to hear from you. You and I are of one mind on this topic. Great comment, and no major grammar gaffes, so rest easy (other than a minor, very common, and totally forgivable miscue about two thirds of the way into your comment when using the subjunctive construction (should be “if I were (not was)willing to do the work…” but I’m trifling! What a pompous pedant I am!  You’ll know in the future not to ask!)

    Love to hear how your job is going. By all means send us an audio comment. Your “non-traditional” perspective on agency life would be interesting…

  8. Terry, this is no way to encourage comments to the blog or the podcast. You’re scaring our loyal listeners with your head-master act.

  9. Terry Author

    I know, I know… I’m hoping Luke knows that I’m just messing with him. I’m hardly an expert. Why just this morning I split an infinitive…

  10. Judy Gombita

    Last time I checked the punishment for splitting an infinitive was 50 lashes with a wet, pedant-like noodle….

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