Why journalists and PR pros hate each other

Dueling Top-5 lists of professional peeves.

If you’ve been in the industry for any amount of time, you know that some PR pros and journalists get along as well as cats and dogs. This isn’t always the case, but the truth is most have at least a few pet peeves concerning one another.

That’s why I’ve come up with these lists of things journalists and PR people hate about each another.

5 things journalists hate about PR pros

1. You don’t respect their time. Journalists have this thing called deadlines—and guess what. Those deadlines aren’t flexible, and they certainly aren’t going to get met if you try to talk their ear off on the phone. When speaking with journalists, get to the point, and if they tell you now isn’t a good time to talk, be respectful of that and try to schedule another time for your chat.

2. You send poorly written, spam-like press releases. If you had to guess, how many press releases do you think are sent out each day that are well written and useful? I suspect it’s probably less than 10 percent. Don’t believe me? Just go read any online news wire. Yikes!

3. You’re difficult to contact. Your company’s PR contact needs to be easy to find. Contact info should always be on every press release you send out, and it should also be somewhere on your website. When a journalist actually tries to get in touch with the PR contact, he or she should be able to do so easily.

4. Your pitches are irrelevant to what the journalist covers. Don’t just send out your press release to every journalist on your e-mail list. That’s an easy way to make a lot of people hate you. Segment your e-mail list according to the type of stories the reporters cover. This helps you make more targeted pitches so you can get the best results.

5. You don’t know when to take “no” for an answer. There’s something to be said for perseverance, but there’s also something bad to be said for people who don’t know when no means no.

5 things PR pros hate about journalists

1. Their constant indecision. Indecision seems to be a part of the news industry. Editors agree to publish a story, then change their mind, then change their mind yet again, and change it back one more time just for good measure. It’s understandable, but it’s also incredibly annoying.

2. They don’t always ask for a comment before running a story. Assuming you’re readily available, it’s always frustrating to come across stories about sensitive subjects on which reporters never asked for your comment or position. Just as bad is when they wait until the last minute to call you, forcing you to resort to a “no comment” because you didn’t have an opportunity to prepare.

3. They sometimes show up to interviews unprepared. At the very least, journalists need to know the basics about the person they’re interviewing. Showing up unprepared is unprofessional and disrespectful.

4. They have the story written in their mind before checking the facts. There are a few reporters who know the angle they’re going to take with a story before they’ve even bothered getting the facts. They have the shocking headline written in their mind, and they won’t let anything get in their way of writing that story.

5. They blindly hate all PR pros. Some journalists think all PR people are bad PR people. They think the PR guy is the devil that’s there to manipulate the facts or keep them from getting the real story.

Share your pet peeves by leaving a comment.

Mickie Kennedy is the CEO and founder of eReleases and blogs at PR Fuel.

Topics: PR


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