A while ago I read a blog post via Comms2Point0 on Twitter, based on "things PRs wished journalists knew". Mostly it was whingeing about being asked to get quotes with three minutes notice, and I was rather incensed - for a start, if I worked in PR, thanks to my journalism background (which the author said did not necessarily make good PRs - I've never met a non-journo PR that's been any good I'm afraid) I would like to think I would be able to anticipate stories and have quotes ready. But maybe that's just me. Anyway, a rather tongue-in-cheek spat ensued, and at some point I promised to write a counter post on "things journalists wish PRs knew." So here it is...
1. Journalists work to tight deadlines, and if we have to spend all morning chasing you around for a one-line quote that should have been provided in your press release we'll remember and not bother in future.
2. London PRs in particular take note: Do not lump everything North of Birmingham together and presume our paper will cover it. Buy a map, then look at it.
3. Make at least some effort to send your email to the right person, please. The internet is full of all sorts of useful information, including contact directories. Mis-spelled names are bad enough, “Dear XXXXX” just proves that it’s a cut and paste mass email.
4. Similarly, don't send your release to every single person at a paper. At best, it’s annoying, at worst it leads to doubling up of work and wasting time, which you won’t be forgiven for.
5. Similarly, don't fill up my inbox with releases you "know will be perfect" for our fashion/pets/problems section. We don't have one, and you clearly haven't done your research.
6. Don't ask to see copy before publication. You KNOW it's not going to happen, so why bother?
7. Don't be surprised when we remove your client's name from the first line of a story and put it further down. Y'know, behind the actual news element. It's a news story, not a free ad.
8. An email is always preferable to a phonecall, no matter what your managers might say. If you are going to ring, be absolutely certain your story is of interest, and that I'm not on deadline.
9. If I say I'm on deadline, that's your cue to get off the phone, not to keep chattering on about your client, who is probably not my number one priority right now I'm afraid.
10. If you're going to start your email with "further to our earlier conversation", or "lovely to speak to you before" - make sure you did actually speak to me. You would be amazed how often this happens.