10 things journalists do that annoy PR pros

When a reporter doesn’t arrive on time, shows up dressed a little too casually, bristles at being corrected or otherwise acts unprofessional, it can be a pain.

For PR pros who keep up with industry news, it isn’t rare to see lists compiled by journalists highlighting things they hate about dealing with PR folks.

Some of these journalists make excellent points. As in everything in life, there are practitioners who are marvelous at their jobs and others who just aren’t.

However, it goes both ways. Maybe it’s time to turn the tables and let journalists know 10 things they do that PR professionals don’t like. Fair is fair.

After more than 25 years in communications I have pretty much seen and heard it all in the media relations field. I even wrote a book titled “Confessions of a Corporate Sycophant.” I began my career as a newspaper journalist and then shifted over to “the dark side” of PR/communications a few years later. I’ve seen both sides. With that in mind, here are a few things PR folks hate when dealing with journalists:

1. Don’t call me 15 minutes before your deadline and demand to speak to the CEO about a story you likely have been working on for weeks. It can be a real challenge to pull the CEO out of a meeting with shareholders to meet your needs.

2. When an interview is scheduled for 10 a.m. with a top company officer, please show up on time. When you saunter in 30 minutes late, it makes me look stupid and also says to the person doing the interview that you do not value his or her time.

3. No one expects a journalist to look like a fashion model, but when you show up in a tank top, cut-off blue jeans and sandals, it sends a weird signal.

4. Take a few minutes to read the stuff I sent you as background information about our company. When your first five questions are about the information I sent you, it is kind of embarrassing.

5. Make sure your recorder is working before you do the interview. Calling me a day later in a panic because your recorder didn’t work really puts me in an awkward position, and makes you look like Bozo the Clown.

6. Don’t get all huffy when I tell you we cannot comment on some issues. In all honesty, we cannot discuss things for a variety of reasons: personnel, health, financial, proprietary, legal, etc.

7. When I offer to pay for your lunch, don’t act like it was some sort of bribe and an affront to your journalistic ethics. If you can be purchased for a lunch, it is you who has an ethics problem.

8. Believe it or not, you make mistakes in stories. Don’t get mad at me for pointing them out. It is likely my bosses are furious and I am trying to calm the situation.

9. Yes, journalism today does not lend itself to long-term employment. However, asking me about any potential openings at our company prior to an interview makes me feel really uncomfortable.

10. Do not allow someone at my company to review your story before it runs/airs. I have briefed interviewees ahead of time that real journalists don’t allow that practice. When you do, it makes me look stupid.

What pet peeves would you add to this list?

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John Landsberg is president at Bottom Line Communications. A version of this article originally appeared on the firm’s blog.

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Topics: PR

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