I have a journalist friend who is hopping mad because PR people have forgotten the basics.
When I first got into social media, it was through PR. In fact, being fairly new to PR at the time, I used social media to help me learn more about it. I found my blog really useful in trying to articulate what I thought PR was, and wasn’t, and eventually started to realise how social media could slot into it quite nicely.
Sometimes I lose sight of this. I get so involved in talking about blogs and virals and bookmarks that I forget about the basics of PR, one of which is about relationships. And one of the most important relationships is that between PR and journalism. And, of course, professionalism throughout.
PRs are busy. It’s a fact. I work alongside tremendously capable people who sweat blood to help journalists out. But it’s hardly surprising that when PR goes bad, journalists get angry – because they too are sweating blood to get their jobs done.
So when this came through from my journalist friend, I felt compelled to pass it on. I’ve removed some details to protect the professional reputations of all concerned, but PR people, please take heed.
Here’s the story:
I have to sound off to someone who’d understand…
I was covering an event that I really needed to get good coverage for [frustratingly I really cannot reveal what the story was about but trust me, you will more likely than not have seen it covered, and even lead, on TV, radio and in the papers – it was a biggie]. The PR company, instead of pushing the material that I knew to be available, sat back and did nothing. By the time the story hit the wires I had to ring up people and get them out of bed to find out if anyone by some kind of miracle actually had possession of it. The PR didn’t even call me back, just sent a text saying it still couldn’t be accessed. I was finally called back far too late for this to be a story and I still don’t have the material.
I need to tell PR people – here’s how you need to start helping journalists:
1. Recognise a big story when you get one.
2. Don’t think “tomorrow will be ok”. Tomorrow we may have big stories around so it might only warrant a bare mention. At the time it was quiet and it could have led the news. Plus stories have a time limit and the longer it goes on the less valuable it is.
3. When a media organisation is chasing you, recognise that if you’re going to get the most out of it for your client you should bend over backwards to help.
Surely PR companies want us to want something they’ve got?
I am so frustrated, and not just own my own behalf. The PR’s client missed a huge opportunity because the PR company was not on the ball.
I can’t work out if I’m the one living on another planet or if they were a particularly incompetent PR firm.
No wonder PR Fail is winning (see right).
I think the journalist was right to feel aggrieved. And I think the points made are spot on. Do you?