A Vancouver journalist-turned-communications consultant named Ken Coach has written a blog post titled Why PR People Hate Reporters. Predictably, it has some (presumably offended) journalists yapping on social media.
I’m not bothered by Coach’s overgeneralizing post. You see, I do two of the things he cites, but I think this is justified. (Reasons: One public-relations agent’s “crackpot” is another citizen’s community advocate. No matter how good a PR rep thinks their “good news” story is, it’s typically not a story to anyone else but their client.) Nevertheless, I think a response to Coach’s post is warranted.
But, despite my somewhat misleading headline, this isn’t really a post about why journalists “hate” PR professionals, but a (possibly helpful) list of annoying don’t dos. Here’s 10 of my PR pet peeves.
1. PR people who waste an email asking if they can send a press release. (Just send over the press release, please.)
2. PR people who use software to email press releases that look like they are personalized but aren’t. (Hint: the Atlanta area code is a dead giveaway.)
3. PR people who send invitations to events in faraway cities.
4. PR people who distribute press releases at a time when the proposed interview subject is not answering their phone or out of the country and unreachable for days. (Universities tend to do this.)
5. PR people who call on a Saturday night with a non-earth-shattering pitch that could have waited until Monday or never.
6. PR people who phone when an email will do.
7. PR people who pitch saying they just got their client coverage from another media outlet.
8. PR people who help arrange an interview for an in-depth feature and then send out a press release on the topic before the piece is published. (Depending on the story, this can backfire on the client if the prominence of the article is reduced as a consequence.)
9. PR people who send pitches that have no relevance to a journalist’s work. (I’m looking at you, bespoke tailors from Hong Kong.)
10. PR people who follow up incessantly on an uninteresting pitch.
In his post, Coach admits that, as a reporter, he was often rude to people from the “dark side”. Don’t let my post fool you: I actually generally get along great with PR reps (you know, the ones I call back). There’s no reason not to be polite.
Although the best stories (true journalism) never come from PR agents, these folks help many of us get our work done every day. And journalists shouldn’t forget: that could easily be you on the other end of the phone line in five years.
Got any of your own pet peeves about PR people or journalists? Post a comment!