5 tips for PR professionals from a journalist

In response to an article PR Daily ran on Monday, a Web editor weighs in with advice for communication professionals.

After reading Tracy Bagatelle-Black’s tips for journalists from PR pros on PR Daily, I just had to laugh. Not because they were funny or stupid, but because I feel like I’ve been putting together a list like this in my head for weeks—but for PR pros, from journalists. Reading pitches from publicists is part of my daily life as a content manager and Web editor, and sometimes they’re just cringe-worthy. When PR is bad, it’s really bad. Over the last few weeks, I have been tweeting my “PROTIPs” for public relations professionals. Usually, these result from something colossally stupid I see in my inbox, like a misspelled product name or the 3,000th email from The Little Publicist Who Could. Here’s an example: Tracy’s post really got me thinking. If I could share with PR professionals five tips that would make my life easier (and coverage more likely for them) what would they be? I think I’ve got it narrowed down to these: 1. Do your homework. If you’re going to pitch me, it’s probably worth getting a little more information than that little blurb that Vocus gives you. Go to my site, look at some of my content, and see what we’re sharing! If you’re not a good fit, nothing that you can say is going to make you a good fit. 2. Do not mislead me. I know that every PR pro reading this blog is going to say that they’d never do something like that, and the majority wouldn’t, but there is a serious lack of disclosure in the PR industry. If a brand sponsors your expert client, you need to make that clear to me. My site isn’t for shilling products; it’s for providing value to my readers. 3. Understand that I am busy. I’m running an entire website and am extremely busy. There are plenty of things I could (and need to) be doing other than uploading your content to my site and making sure that your client’s name is properly italicized. Be respectful of journalists’ time. If you wouldn’t want them bugging you to death, don’t do it to them. Emailing me daily to ask whether your article is ready isn’t going to get it published any faster. 4. Check yourself. I can’t tell you how many times I get pitches with my name misspelled, horrible grammar, and other crimes against English. Spend a little time going over your release and making sure everything is correct. I know this sounds like a no-brainer, but if I were to take you on a tour of my inbox, you’d believe that a significant portion of the public relations industry hasn’t met spell- or grammar-check. 5. Provide me with something good. As a publicist, I know you’ve got to say that everything about your client is magical and wonderful. Unfortunately, as a journalist, that really doesn’t do much for me. I don’t want to hear about your “new and improved this or that,” but I would really like to hear about how your “new and improved this or that” is helping families save money, or how your “new and improved this or that” showers its purchaser with the finest jewels. Give me value, and I’ll give you coverage! Ultimately, I’m not going to rip PR pros too much. Even though journalists like to think they don’t need them, they do. I understand, though, that often PR and journalism have competing interests, and that’s always going to cause friction. Respecting both industries is the way to go. PR pros, I know that I couldn’t live without those little life-saving stories you always seem to send me in the nick of time, but you guys certainly couldn’t live without those of us who are pounding out the ink and getting your clients and causes covered. Amy McCarthy is a content strategist and editor living in Dallas, Texas.

Topics: PR


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