What are the Nine Circles of PR Hell?

What are the Nine Circles of PR Hell?
October 31, 2014 Doug Haslam

Today is Halloween in the United States. It’s a holiday where we think about skeletons, zombies and the underworld. Where roving packs of children extort candy from us with the promise of mischief if we don’t comply. It’s where 90% of all princess costumes will likely be Elsa from “Frozen” this year.

For those PR professionals not involved in the candy, safety, party and costume industries, what does Halloween mean to them?

With everyone thinking of the underworld, it made me think about the venial and mortal sins that some PR professionals may commit as part of their daily practice of PR. In his Divine Comedy, Dante Alighieri wrote of the Nine Circles of Hell. That caused me to wonder – what are the nine circles of PR Hell?

I debated this topic with some of my colleagues at MSLGROUP and the image above reflects are our initial thoughts on the mistakes some PR people make that should be avoided at all costs.

What did we miss? What do you consider inexcusable mistakes that must be avoided and to what circle of PR Hell would you consign the transgressor? Leave us a comment and let us know your thoughts.

Note: After debating this for a while, we did a search and realized others have used this analogy before. We did not read any of their writing before drafting our own.


Post Author

Mark McClennan Mark W. McClennan, APR is the Senior Vice President, Social Media, for MSLGROUP in Boston. He is a past PRSA Boston President and currently serves as the National Treasurer for PRSA.


  1. Bonny 10 years ago

    Mark, love the graphic, but I do have to comment with respect to use of the Oxford comma in the 6th Circle, Heresy. (Most) news journalists follow AP Style, which frowns on the serial comma.

  2. Author
    Doug Haslam 10 years ago

    Ed. note: AP Style followers should be pleased to not that no Oxford comma was used (or needed to be edited out) in the 2nd paragraph of the text (“candy, safety, party and costume”).

    Personal note, and not necessarily the opinion of the board: I am wholeheartedly in favor of the eradication of the Oxford comma unless when absolutely needed for clarity.

  3. Bob Kovacs 10 years ago

    How about working “laziness” into the mix?

    I have PR people send me press releases about shiny new products, then don’t have a photo of it. When I ask for a publishable photo, they act surprised that such a request came up.

    Another PR issue I’ve dealt with as an editor is the occasional PR person who will promise me an exclusive on a story, only to find out everyone else has it.

    I don’t want to tar everyone from the same brush, however… there are lots of excellent PR people that I deal with daily.

  4. JamesHum 3 years ago

    Nashik is an ancient holy city in Maharashtra, a state in western India. It’s known for its links to the “Ramayana” epic poem. On the Godavari River is Panchavati, a temple complex. Nearby, Lord Rama was thought to have bathed at Ram Kund water tank, today attended by Hindu devotees. Shri Kalaram Sansthan Mandir is an ancient shrine to Rama, while Rama and Sita are said to have worshipped at Sita Gufaa caves.


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