A Reporter’s Ode to PR:
Learn How the Media Works

Saturday - 30 November 2013

Instead of complaining about a journalist not covering your story, read these PR tips from a reporter.

Just as PR pros hate being called “Spin Doctors,” journalists get frustrated when PR practitioners and their clients fail to understand the role and responsibilities of media.

Tired of hearing “Journalists are biased” and “Can we review the story before it’s published?” Amy Westervelt offers a peek behind the media curtain in Stop Complaining about Your PR Firm. Here’s How the Media Works.

One unconventional tip: focus on relationships with freelancers, not editors. As Westervelt points out, beat reporters and editors cover a topic once, and then it’s done. But since freelance work appears on different publications, freelance writers look for new angles and try to sell as many variations of that story as possible.

Other media relationship-building tips include:

  • Be considerate of deadlines. Reporters have to produce more content in less time, for less money. They’re less inclined to read a drawn-out email, meet up at your office, or take a tour of a new factory.
  • Pitch reporters like they pitch their editors. Reporters have to sell story ideas to their editors before they can pursue them. Freelancer Westervelt’s pitching process to editors: first, read the last few months of content that appeared on that topic. Then, compose no more than two paragraphs to summarize the idea and explain why it’s relevant and timely.
  • Don’t rely on press releases. Companies like Coca-Cola are slowly removing the press release from their publicity programs. Press releases can act as an additional resource for reporters, but PR should never rely on it to promote their message.
  • Don’t try to change quotes. Unless addressing a factual error, PR pros should never ask reporters if they can change their quote in a story to change its tune or introduce new information. The answer will always be no, and will earn you a spot on most journalists’ black lists.

It may also be worth revisiting the PR Do’s and Don’ts of Media Relations.

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