Three media pet peeves from an experienced PR pro
Watching my Twitter feed each day, it is not uncommon to see journalists I follow complaining about public relations professionals.
Complaints range from terrible pitches they received, press releases sent to them with no contact information or everyday gripes about working with us PR people that tick them off. The grumbles never seem to subside.
There is even a Twitter account dedicated to this grumbling: @DearPR.
Let’s face it. Those of us working in PR are not perfect. Many have not been trained properly, some have bad instincts. And, there people pretending to be public relations professionals who just don’t understand how to work with the press.
Because of this, it adds obstacles for principled practitioners. We are working to establish relationships and earn respect from media professionals by delivering researched pitches and conducting ethical communication.
I have read many articles and blogs penned by journalists expressing their pet peeves of PRs. Many here on Muck Rack.
Some demonstrate fair annoyances.
However, in my experience working with the media I have discovered they are also not without their flaws. This is my chance to provide some pet peeves I have developed working with the media throughout my 12 years in the public relations industry.
1. The journalist who does not review any of the materials I send prior to an interview
This happens often, and surprisingly with reporters who have been working in the industry a long time.
Keep in mind, the material I send is usually a brief fact sheet to provide particulars, giving them the background information needed to develop a few educated questions in advance. I am fully aware that some unscripted dialogue helps the interview feel more natural.
One time I worked with a longtime TV anchor/reporter who was assigned to interview my client for a featured segment during a sweeps month. Clearly, the reporter did not read anything I sent them prior to the interview. Perhaps, because they were a TV news veteran, they didn’t feel it was necessary to review information sent to them by a young PR flack.
When the interview took place, we ended up spending more time than needed bringing the reporter up to speed. Additionally, not one question was prepared. The interview was dull, and the segment did not reach its full potential.
2. The journalist who always shows interest in story pitches, but never commits to anything
There are a few specific people that come to mind with this pet peeve, and they all work with national outlets.
At my agency right now, we are going through this with a specific producer at a cable news program. We have literally been pitching this person for years. He always says he is interested in the story, then goes dark. Maybe he is doing this to mess with us.
This is more of an annoyance than anything else. But, because he works with a national outlet, we cannot give up. A connection has been established and it is always worth a shot to send over a pitch. After all, landing a national segment for your client is usually a homerun, so we are at these people’s mercy sometimes.
3. The media person who harassed me for a favor, but then never responds when I send a pitch or have a question for them
This has to be at the top of media pet peeves list.
In my personal opinion, this is just unprofessional. I have worked with some high profile clients over the years where I have been faced with reporters, editors and/or producers hounding me for interviews or a comment from them.
As a PR professional, I aim to always be responsive and honest about the access, or limited access I can provide to a client. In some cases, I have gone above and beyond to make an interview work, or craft a statement to suit the needs of the media outlet in need. The reason for doing so is an attempt to form a lasting relationship. But, that does not always happen.
Often times after delivering a favor, I go back to that person when I have a story pitch, or a simple question about approaching their outlet with an idea.
It is common to not even receive a reply from that person, after they harassed me and I delivered. I mean, really?
If you work in PR and would like to contribute some of your media pet peeves, hit me up on Twitter at @chrisdaley43. I will compile them for consideration in a future post. I can also retweet them, cc’ing @DearPR of course.
Chris Daley is the Director of Brand and Business Development for Maroon PR. He also serves as an adjunct professor in the Business Communication program at Stevenson University.
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