Put down the phone? No way!
There are countless articles about all the wrongs that PR professionals do. It has been covered ad nauseum.
A few tips off the top of my head include:
- Do your research
- Make sure to contact the right person
- Have supporting materials available and ready to go
- Meet all deadlines
- Be nice
- Use AP style
- Think about the outlet’s audience
- Don’t chew gum and walk at the same time
- Etc., etc. etc.
I typically don’t set out to disagree with an article that provides tips for how the public relations and journalism industries can work together cohesively. But as I was reading this blog post – aptly titled “S%*t PR People Do That Journalists Hate” one of the suggestions is to actually “Put down the phone.”
I could not disagree more.
Here’s my response:
I disagree with the “put down the phone” suggestion. As partner and director of client services for an 8-person PR agency, I’m continually encouraging my team to pick up the phone more. I want them to pick up the phone before they send an email to anyone. The response and feedback you get is more immediate, the tone cannot be misconstrued as easily as email and it allows you to have a conversation about story ideas that are best suited for a particular outlet/audience.
It’s easy to hide behind email – rejection hurts – but I’ve found that if I just pick up the phone and have a brief dialogue, that the outcome is mostly helpful for moving forward in a relationship (whether sending additional information on a story idea or client, ideas for future partnerships, etc.).
Of course you have to have a compelling story idea that fits the reporter’s audience – obviously.
Our team has enjoyed national media coverage for our clients and I’d say nine times out of 10 the pitch started as a phone call.
Clients hire agencies so they can receive expert advice on how to work with journalists, bloggers and reporters. They aren’t paying us to churn out emails. We have to be creative, understand the industries we’re serving and respect the people with whom we work. And I believe that this requires more face-to-face (if possible) and human interaction.
What do you think?
I think we need to get past blasting PR people for doing a bad job. There are whole sites dedicated to bad pitches and journalists have had quite the sense of satisfaction of punishing offenders with a public scarlet letter for all to see. How about we stop spending time to dissect every single bad pitch out there and just accept the fact that in every profession, there are going to be people who kick a** at their jobs and people who don’t. There are people who give all they have to be the best they can be and to make a difference and there are people who just slide through riding on a cream cheese cloud (one of my favorite Liza Jones sayings!). There are superstars and there are folks who are simply ineffective at getting their clients coverage. Isn’t that enough? The smart and dedicated PR people who “get it” will move on to be successful and the former will not.