Understanding: The key to a strong PR/Reporter relationship

By Matter

Is anyone else getting tired of reading articles that point out the faults of PR professionals? Probably an obvious question, given that the majority of the readers of this blog are likely PR people. Another obvious statement: Nobody is perfect – meaning that every pitch, press release or phone call doesn’t need to be documented as a negative mark against the entire PR community. I was reading an article in The Economist this week that is a good example of what I’m talking about.

Although there are valid points made in the piece, many articles that I’ve read during the course of my brief career have knocked PR people for at least one of the following reasons – to which I would include that a counter argument can be made:

  • “Not doing your homework.” Ok, there are PR people who blindly pitch reporters looking to land a “Hail Mary.” Not good, but that certainly doesn’t reflect all PR professionals. There are many journalists who often do not live up to their own rule of not doing the appropriate amount of research before speaking with clients. Often times, it can lead to a number of follow up conversations and a convoluted story. Having said that, you don’t typically see PR people ganging up on the journalistic community.
  • “Making annoying follow up calls.” Sure, then don’t list your phone number. Or, better yet, respond to the e-mail pitch with a simple “no” if you aren’t interested. Some journalists do and others don’t. Most PR professional can take the hint and have the mindset to move on quickly. If you respond, we won’t bug you when you may, or may not, be on deadline. Also, you don’t typically see a PR person snap at a journalist when the shoe is on the other foot and they are looking for a source, even if the PR person is under deadline trying to submit an award or finalize a press release.
  • “Not understanding the pressures of being a journalist.” PR people aren’t idling away the hours in our cubicles, waiting for the right time to hit send on that e-mail. We understand that journalists often work under tight deadlines, with minimal staff and need to produce quality content that will drive readers to the site. But please, please understand that PR people are under a lot of pressure as well. PR people are also responsible for creating compelling content, meeting tight deadlines and delivering results and metrics to our clients.

The PR and reporter relationship is one that needs to be valued. In fact, this post is meant to be a, “pat on the back” for the PR people AND journalists who have mutual respect and adoration for each other’s profession. Moral of the story: Both journalists and PR people are under pressure to deliver. If we can work together and understand the basic principles for which the other party is working under, the relationships that we’ve all worked tirelessly to build will only grow stronger.