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Grumpy Old Journos – Part One

Building strong relationships with the press is a critical part of any media relations programme. Understanding what they want and how they work will help you avoid doing anything that is likely to irritate or annoy them, which is so important when you consider these journalists hold the key to your PR success. 

With all this in mind, we thought it might be interesting to speak with a number of our best contacts to let them vent their frustrations and find out exactly what makes them into grumpy old journos.  Part one shows that ineffective communication is often a major bugbear and could hamper your media campaign now and in the future.

The pointless follow-up

Ringing up to ask if the press release will be used or has been received was at the top of most of the journalist’s lists, which is exacerbated further because the job is often assigned to the most junior member of the PR team who does have the knowledge to answer any subsequent questions. Do not call unless you have something to add or are equipped to respond to any additional media queries.

“Do not ring us up or email us to ask if we are going to use your press release. We receive dozens of press releases every day, so if had to acknowledge all of them we would never have any time to do any work. If the release is appropriate and convincing, it will be used.”

Poor communications

Journalists can get hundreds of emails every day, so do not simply rely on this form of communication if you want to discuss an idea or make a suggestion. However, do not cold call and try to bludgeon them into doing a client interview or run a by-lined article. Use all tools at your disposal to build a personal relationship that will help maximise any opportunities that exist.

“I get up to 150 emails per day, and by just resending the same email as a hint to get me to bite is not good enough.”

“Do you like double-glazing salesmen? Nor do we and badgering phone calls seem very much like them. Establish a relationship first, try to come up with a unique proposition for their publication and do not make them feel like they are just next on the list.”

Ignoring requests

Always respond to requests for additional information or input. If you cannot help, then it is better to say so and the journalist will respect you more for this. However, if you can provide assistance quickly, it will not only lead to better coverage, but could also result in further opportunities in the future. Journalists will always go back to their trusted PR contacts especially when they need something last minute.

“Some PR firms are good at sending out material on their own terms, but unresponsive and evasive when it comes to answering requests for information. This comes over as cynical, and does the client no favours. If you can help, make sure you do, and the journalist will love you forever.”

In the second part of this blog, to be published shortly, we will be taking a look at some of the gripes journalists have with regards to the PR material they receive.

To provide feedback:

Jonathan Symons
+44 (0)20 8654 7618