Putting the ‘R’ Back in PR: Journalists Share Suggestions for Better Media Relations
Lazy PR results in poor media placement and abuse from journalists. Caitlin Epstein’s article, 6 Journalists Talk about What ‘Good PR’ Means to Them, provides much-needed input and guidance from journalists on how PR can serve as a resource without causing pain.
To strengthen the PR-journalist relationship, reporters encourage PR pros to observe the following best practices:
- Write concise pitches. According to Harry McCracken of TIME Magazine, “I don’t think I can overstate how appealing it is for pitches to be brief and to-the-point and free of attempts to be chatty or clever.”
- Don’t meddle. Interviews kept between the source and the reporter produce more natural quotes. PR pros shouldn’t insist that they act as “mediator.”
- Provide quality media resources. PR pros must provide quality photos and videos that reporters can use in stories. Christina Farr of VentureBeat recommends taking photos of executives, founders and sources likely to be in an article. Try to create an interesting shot — the president in his office or shaking hands with a partner — instead of the boring head shot that reporters hate. Magazines such as Fortune and Forbes serve as examples for interesting business photography.
- Research the publication. Before sending pitches, PR should review which topics and subjects fall under the publication’s domain, and whether the journalist has written about the product or topic before.
- Don’t pitch an exclusive that isn’t. If you pitch a week-old product launch to a reporter as an exclusive, they’ll assume the product didn’t debut well when you pitched it to other reporters.
- Choose clients with great stories and services. Even the best PR pro can’t convince a journalist that a product ridden with issues provides value to readers. Wade Roush of Xconomy asserts the root cause of half of the misery and frustration in PR is picking unexciting clients, or not letting clients go that don’t have something worthy to offer.
Key advice: Tyler Loechner of MediaPost asks that PR pros be willing to supply off-the-record comments and ideas for stories — even if the story doesn’t promote the company.
“It doesn’t have to be all the time, but from time to time is nice” to maintain a give-and-take relationship, he adds.
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