It’s an age-old question: What do reporters want from PR folks? In preparing for this we considered supplying you with some best practices, but instead decided to ask a few of our news contacts what it is they don’t like. Not only did their answers prove to be quite insightful, but at times flat out funny. Take a look for yourself.
“The worst PR guy that I work with is the Newman to my Seinfeld. He never sends press releases. He pitches ideas, but leaves out important information. Then if I ask him to send a release on it, he sends me a link to their website that doesn’t have any information on it. One time I was writing an article and needed key information and contacts. He sent that to me after the story had already run. Another time, I was conducting a phone interview with someone he was in the same office with. After listening to our interview, he sent out a second email to every media contact with information he overheard from our interview. This led to several TV outlets running the information before it ran in our paper. On another occasion, one of my coworkers scheduled an onsite interview/tour of their facility. When he arrived, no interviews were set up with key people and the guy didn’t know any of the answers to his questions so it was a wasted trip.”
As you could see, this reporter could go on and on.
Another reporter writes:
“Things that don’t work for me include PR reps who think we’re going to respond to every email we get. Journalists have limited time and unless an email is addressed to me, I usually don’t respond to them once I act on them. Most journalists probably don’t even go that far to respond to PR reps’ emails. We get tons of emails, so responding to all or even most of them is too much to ask, especially when some are spam-like press releases on subjects/issues we don’t cover. Mass emails from companies (these are usually national companies with press releases on subjects such as health/gardening/etc. tips for readers) are also not good. These PR reps simply do not understand what our publication covers.”
So next time you are pitching a reporter remember this blog and always ask yourself the following:
• Is what I’m pitching newsworthy?
• Is it timely?
• Is this pitch relevant to the reporter’s beat?
• Will it be of interest to this publication’s audience?
• Do I have the right information to share?
• Am I acting like Newman?