What Journalists Should Know About PR People

Yesterday I wrote a post about what all PR people should know about journalists.  One of the most frequent comments to that post was a request from many readers that I take the opposite approach and share what journalists and the media should know about PR people. So here's a starting list of what media should know about PR people:

  1. Our own client's time isn't always ours. Often we would like nothing more than to have our client's entire rolodex at our disposal so we can accomodate any window you give us … but sometimes it doesn't work that way.  Often, the person you most want to talk to for your story is also the busiest and hardest person to schedule. So give us a break if we can't always make it happen for you.
  2. Sometimes we have to dump you for a better offer too. Admit it, if you found a better and more on point quote or source for your story, you'd dump us and our client to use it in a second. Just remember that sometimes we have the same situation. If a bigger or more relevant media outlet comes along and wants to do a story, we have to take it. Remember, we're all professionals trying to do the best job we can.
  3. Cancellations are worse for us than for you. We hate to cancel a meeting or phone interview as much as you. Actually, we probably hate it even more than you … because we know that not only are we reducing our credibility with you, but we're also making it harder for us to get future media for that client and it means we'll have to do twice the work.
  4. The angle you're looking for isn't obvious. You may have a very clear idea of the story you want to write and feel that you have been forthcoming with it, but sometimes we don't get that picture as clearly as you think we do. So when we pitch a client or a story angle, sometimes it's not because we're trying to spam you, but because we are not quite sure how you'll write your story and think that we're on target.
  5. Your promises become our promises. We know we shouldn't do this, but in a world of tight deadlines and clients demanding constant updates, often what you promise to us becomes our promise to the client. So if you don't follow through or decide to take a different angle, we're the ones that look bad. The best thing you can do is either avoid making a promise, or follow through.
  6. Remember all the great stuff we do for you. We offer you writing that you can lift and claim as your own. We share new story ideas with you to make your job easier. We invite you to great press events, give you bags of schwag and treat you like royalty. In return, we have our ideas taken and used with no credit, are often treated poorly by clients and media alike and blasted as being "masters of spin" or "flacks." It's no wonder the PR industry as a whole has an inferiority complex. Just remember that it is often PR people that offer the infrastructure to let you do what you do. We don't need hugs or anything, but at least remember that the next time you want to "out" a PR person on your blog for sending you something that wasn't exactly on target.

NOTE: This post is a response to comments from many readers on my last post about "What PR People Should Know About Journalists." Before I was able to post this, Thomas Lee at 451 Marketing also wrote a similar response post worth checking out.

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