Tuesday Toolbox: Dear, Journalist. With Admiration, Us Flacks.

Posted June 11, 2013 by

The team selected the theme this week for Toolbox Tuesday, and I think it’s a good one. We read SO many articles on how not to work with journalists – there’s even a blog that we all like to read about the mishaps that we flacks make. But there are few posts that tell journalists how we can work together in a collaborative way from a publicist’s pov. This by no means is meant to be a rant post – but some insight on what we think would make for a more fruitful relationship. Let’s face it, with the shrinking media landscape, we need each other!

I’ve been at this PR thing for some time (yes, I know, you thought I was MUCH younger. Thank you ;) ). Thinking back to how we worked with the media before email, and mostly by phone and fax – I recall being spoken to yelled at screamed profanities at by a few really special reporters for no particular reason other than my “poor choice” of a career. Thankfully, PMGers report that these members of the media are far and few between.

We’ve been really, REALLY fortunate to work with some great journalists over the years at PMG. And, we look forward to continuing to foster these relationships and partnerships. But, in an ideal world, here’s one piece of advice we’d like to offer journalists who work with us – but really, ALL publicists.

- Nicole

For your listening pleasure while you read… (props to Liz for including this gem in her submission):


 

Alicia:

No is better than nothing” – If I could offer one piece of insight for journalists, it would be that a quick “No” is so helpful when publicists are pitching story ideas. Of course, a “Sounds interesting” or a “I’d like to learn more” is always preferred :), sending me a “No, thanks” when it’s not a fit will let me know quickly what doesn’t work for you and to take you off my list for follow-up.

Michael:

Journalists should know that while PR professionals are skilled communicators and often tell our clients’ stories to the press, we would prefer to let our clients speak on the record for themselves, especially for in-depth features. We are always happy to share information on the products and services provided by our clients, but we appreciate when clients are given the opportunity to provide answers to questions regarding their motivations and feelings about their company and industry in their own words.

Ben:

One thing that I wish I could pass along to journalists from a public relations standpoint is that the last thing we ever want to do is cancel an interview that we have set up for you. After working hard to gain your interest in the product/services that we are pitching, we then act as a bridge to set up the meeting. Unfortunately, things also come up for our clients and we are the ones left to be the bearer of bad news if there is a change of plans. The PR contact is the one that usually ends up looking bad and sometimes this ends our chances of ever being able to pitch you again. Please know that we value your time and some things are just out of our control.

Brittany:

My role at PMG has led me to work with a variety of specialty food businesses that produce some really exceptional, mouth-watering products. This means that a lot of the pitching and out reach I do is largely to inspire sample requests. If I have a new product launch and I’ve hand selected you to receive my pitch, then I want to send you a sample. I want you to try this product and I’ll go to the end of the earth to make sure you have all the  photos, product descriptions, pricing and distribution information you would need should you be interested. If you’ve kindly requested a sample and I’ve dutifully made sure we delivered, please let me know what you think. We don’t want to be pesky PR-reps known for one too many tedious follow ups, so give it to us straight – do you hate it? Is it a fit for your publication? Not the right timing? Whatever it is, let us know. We’ll be bummed if the request doesn’t result in a lead, but we’ll appreciate your honesty.

Liz:

We want to help!

If a journalist should know anything about publicists it’s that we’re not just trying to get our products in front of you, we truly do hope that our information is helpful to you as you create content. If a company, product, pitch, sample, etc. isn’t of use to you, we want you to tell us. Our mission is to communicate and find opportunities, our goal is to create long-lasting relationships and help make your jobs a bit easier along the way. In the end, teamwork means increased productivity on both ends. 

Michelle:

We’ve been working together – maybe you showed interest and I sent more information or you might have even interviewed a client. It seems like a story is on the horizon…and then you go radio silent. Stories get cut, pushed back week to week, or put on hold for a future story – it happens, but keep me in the loop! I still think this story is happening and I’m waiting for it (and continuing to try to reach out to you to no avail!), and if you interviewed one of my clients, they’re waiting for the story, too. Even better? If you can tell me why the story got cut or pushed back.

Anya:

We’re all people.

While I’ve had some experience working with media during my internships, this is my first month officially working at a public relations agency so I’m still pretty new to the game. However, one thing I think journalists and publicists should both keep in mind when working together is that they’re often working towards similar goals.

Journalists have deadlines they need to meet, as do publicists. Journalists look for stories that are informative and captivating in order to grow their audience and their publication’s business while publicists work to inform their client’s current consumers and captive potential customers to generate sales. Most importantly, publicists are people too, just like journalists. In the end, remembering our similarities can make for a more symbiotic relationship.

Julia:

Something journalists should keep in mind about publicists is that bypassing our role and going directly to our client oftentimes isn’t going to make the process any quicker or smoother. Our clients forward media requests right to us regardless, and we have a better understanding of which documents, photos and person to interview will be best based on the story angle. Our clients rely on us to take care of these requests so if a journalist knows a certain publicist or agency works with a brand, it’s easier for everyone if journalists go through the publicist, I promise.

 

Ok, media friends and publicists… this is your chance: use the comments section below to give your one hope of how we can all collaborate better! 


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