Working in agency public relations has exposed me to some pretty interesting things, one of which is pitching to the media.
The pitch itself is great, you write a short note to the editor/reporter/columnist/program director/whoever telling them the basics in a personable manner. You send them your news release and a photo if applicable and you’re good… right?
Not entirely. You have to follow-up with the media people that you pitched, which wouldn’t seem like a big deal, but apparently it is. We use a massive database to build lists of contacts related to the topic and the database gives us information about the media people. For example a reporter would submit their preferred contact channel and their preferred timetables.
It’s astonishing how many members of the media will bite your head off for calling them or even sending them a story. One editor heard who I was and said, “No way, we don’t work with PR” and he hung up on me. I went back to the database and read that he accepts all news releases and welcomes follow-up calls. Now I’m confused.
It became apparent shortly into a task of following up that some journalism people don’t like PR people. I can’t figure it out either. PR and journalism should be best friends!
The majority of public relations people have journalism training, they write news releases in a journalistic style, wrap them up in pretty little packages and send them to the media. And they don’t really even have to do anything with it! They can copy what I wrote and publish it and be done. All the effort it took was some copy and paste. So why do my contacts act like I’m sending them through the gauntlet to get a story?
Now I’m concerned, I have several friends going into the journalism field…. Are they going to one day hate me when I send them a story?
I did speak with some really nice people and some enthusiastic people, but as is typical, the negative sticks with you.
However I feel the need to say this: bloggers get it! I don’t say this simply because I blog, take some time and check out some high-traffic blogs and you’ll see badges that say “PR friendly” or “pitch me” (this is not a high-traffic blog in case you weren’t sure!)
Sending news releases to bloggers sometimes means that the blogger will have to do more work than a reporter would. They craft posts which are significantly less formal, more specifically targeted and sometimes they actually have to go and do things in order to get a one page post for their readers.
Dear media-bound friends,
Please don’t hate me when you’re big time and have a desk!