As noted in Chapter 11 of Public Relations Writing and Techniques, there is often a lot of friction and tension between PR professionals and the journalists they try to court in order to advertise their product or business. It’s certainly a love/hate relationship since both rely on each other for stories and for media attention. However, in order for PR professionals to work as well as possible with the journalists, they need to know what drives them crazy in order to prevent those incidents from happening and to have better working relationships.
1. Public relations people are unfamiliar with editorial requirements and format. Always be familiar with the framework and the requirements that the journalist must work within and make sure that your story can cater to what they can write.
2. Journalists hate when PR professionals bug them with too many phone calls/faxes/emails about a story. They have a deadline. The story will be done by then and if you provide adequate information, the story should be good.
3. Journalists don’t like when the PR professional doesn’t understand the product or service. Before you “sell” it to the media, become an expert on what you’re “selling” in the first place. The less knowledgeable you are, the worse you look.
4. When someone isn’t available to answer questions. In order for the story to be as accurate and informative as possible, you need to be available to answer any questions the journalist might have. When someone isn’t available to answer a question, they assume you don’t really care and they can feel free to toss the story and run another one.
5. Not meeting publication deadlines: journalists’ lives are dictated by deadlines and if PR professionals can’t be kind enough to work with these deadlines, then the journalist won’t be kind enough to run the story.
6. Using excessive hype: every PR professional overhypes their product or service and sometimes journalists aren’t impressed that something is “new and improved” or “sophisticated” because everyone says the same thing. Try to find a new angle to sell your product or use words that the journalist doesn’t always see.
7. Use proper grammar and AP style. As a PR professional and someone who does a writing for a living, you should be familiar with AP style and the basics of grammar, punctuation, and spelling. If these aren’t used correctly, the journalist won’t take you seriously.
8. Lack of sources or contacts: In order for the journalist to write the story correctly, they need to have sources or contacts other than you so that the story is well-rounded and accurate. Not providing this won’t get the story published.
9. Be straight forward with your press release: Journalists want to get to the point of the story and “beating around the bush” won’t make any journalist happy.
10. Use the technology that suits the journalist. If they’d rather meet face-to-face, then do that. If they prefer email or even Twitter or Facebook, do that. Cater to them and they’ll write a story. It’s as simple as that.