Why I am a journalist and publicist and NOT a typical PR peep:
The ‘alleged’ top five annoying things journalists do – by a PR company -and my replies to them and exactly why I am a journalist who runs a publicity company:
PR questions under blue headings – my replies in bold black:
Demand answers to 50 questions with an hour’s notice
We appreciate that magazines are often on tight deadlines. But please give us poor PR bods a chance! It normally takes us more than an hour to go through your questions, see which ones we can answer immediately, pass the others on to the relevant client, await a response, chase the client for a response, receive the response, check the response, edit the response and send the responses back. A little bit of flexibility is greatly appreciated.
My response: Journalists are on deadlines all the time – we don’t have time (literally) to wait for your ‘client’ to get his or her crap together for an answer to a probably simple question. You don’t answer on time you don’t get the coverage.
Chase us non-stop for comment for a feature – then not use it
Of course, not everything journalists receive from PRs for a feature or story is going to be useful or relevant. But a little consideration for all the hard work that has gone in to preparing some answers to your questions is always welcome. Just a token quote would do wonders for making us feel appreciated!
My response: News is news and it changes by the minute. If something else comes up which overseas your ‘feature’ then it will be left out. Also papers are limited to pagination. That’s the way newspapers work.
Get something wrong then refuse to run a correction
Mistakes happen – we’re all only human! Sometimes it’s our fault, and sometimes it’s yours. But if it happens, let’s talk about it like the grown up professionals we all are. In some cases, there’s no need for a correction, and in others, it’s really the only way to smooth the ruffles and keep all parties happy.
My response: All press has a duty to publish a correction if there is a real need and complete legal mistake in the next available issue/programme. That will happen, but where it is printed is up to the publication.
Ignore us for weeks then bombard us with five voicemails in a row
Suddenly, you’re returning our calls! That bit is great, it’s the urgency and persistence with which you are now contacting us that grates a little. I hate to break it to you, but we’re not (most of us) waiting patiently by the phone for you to call us, especially if the last time we heard from you was 2010. Also – one voicemail is enough. When we’re available, we’ll call you back.
My response: Hello! We report and make the news and we report it when it’s time to report it. Therefore journos will get back to you when they think what you have is relevant and timely. We don’t wait for calls from PRs – most of the time we dread them. Believe it or not, we have many other news sources which are much more relevant and interesting than those from PR agencies.
Ignore us entirely
Ok, ok. We get the message. You’re not interested, we’re of no use to you, and we’re probably just annoying you a bit by now. But a far easier way to get us to stop contacting you is just to send us a nice quick email saying, ‘thanks but no thanks’.
My response: Yes, your calls and emails should always be appreciated and acknowledged – and responded to. Journalists who don’t do that don’t care, are too busy or are just unprofessional. Saying that, if the material PRs send is constantly crap, then no, you won’t get a response. Simple as.