Maggiecrowley's Blog

How to Drive a Journalist Crazy!

Posted in Topic of the Week by Maggie on July 6, 2010

Public relations professionals share a tight-knit relationship with journalists. Media relations are an important part of working in PR.  PR people rely on journalists heavily, but the dependency is mutual because journalists need PR professionals, too.  Here is a list of common discrepancies between PR writers and journalists, followed by a solution to the problem, or how to avoid it altogether.

  1. The problem:  Hype and News Release Spam.  Journalists receive hundreds of e-mails everyday and are dulled by the hype words attempting to bribe them to a story.  Due to the constant flow of spam and overrated news releases, journalists often conclude that many publicists and PR writers are incompetent.

A different approach:  In order to catch the attention of journalists without bugging them by sending e-mail after e-mail, PR professionals could try sending an actual hand-written letter to journalists. If the letter doesn’t prompt a response, PR writers may try catching up with journalists in person to talk about upcoming events or stories.  By meeting up with journalists in person, PR people can get a feeling for what the journalist is interested in writing about or publishing instead of the hit and miss technique that is adopted when constantly sending e-mails about what they find interesting.

2. The problem: Name Calling.  When journalists and PR professionals don’t get along, the bitter relationship can quickly go from bad to worse when the name calling begins.

A different approach:  To completely avoid the phenomenon of name calling, public relations writers should go out of their way to ensure a respectful and professional relationship with journalists.  To do so, a PR person may consider offering a small promotional item, or some kind of sincere gesture to the journalists to start things off right.  Because of their mutual dependency on one another, name calling is just one more unfortunate down side of the relationship between the two that should be completely avoided.

3.  The problem:  Sloppy reporting.  Sometimes when journalists publish a story, it doesn’t turn out the way that we hoped. Instead of getting mean or even, the PR pro should remember the necessity of a good relationship between journalism and PR.

A different approach:  Instead of getting mean or seeking revenge, the PR professional should step back, take a breath and try to understand what happened.  Why would the story turn out the way it did? How can we prevent misunderstandings like this in the future? Is this someone you should really be working with to begin with?

4.  The problem:  Advertising influence.  Often, published stories are the works of paid advertising. Sometimes, only paid advertisements make the story. Because PR tries to avoid paid advertising, there can be some resentment if that’s the case.

A different approach:  In order to avoid the negativity that comes with not being able to share information with audiences because of the journalists, PR professionals could try other media outlets.

5.  The problem:  Tabloid Journalism.  Some outlets of journalism do not require the highest standard of ethical and fair reporting and some journalists do not mind sensationalizing headlines and stories, just to sell the issue.

A different approach:  Instead of stopping service to journalism altogether, PR professionals should try to avoid the muck of flab journalism.  PR people could try talking to the reporter to before offering information to find out their real motives to publishing the story.

6.  The problem:  Lack of preparation.  On either side of the fence, when someone or something is not prepared for an interview, story, deadline, etc. it can cause problems to everyone.

A different approach: In order to avoid this problem, take every means necessary to prepare yourself for upcoming deadlines, events, stories, etc!!! If you are the one being outed when another individual is unprepared, you can try to avoid working with them in the future, or try to give reminders to ensure that everyone stays on tasks.

7.  The problem:  Disrespect.  When anything goes wrong in the media, a scape goat is often sought after to blame.

A different approach:  Instead of blaming a journalist of co-worker, try to find the root of the problem and fix it before a new problem arises.  Blaming is the beginning of an unhealthy and disrespectful relationship.

8.  The problem:  Bribery.  Journalists and PR professionals alike have all been bribed to print a story, or support a cause that they don’t necessarily believe in.

A different approach:  When bribery takes place,  no one wins.  While promotional items are commonly used, bribery takes the competition out of the game by winning someone over with money and gimmicks.


2 Responses to 'How to Drive a Journalist Crazy!'

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  1. lib3byrd said,

    I love your title. It really grabs my attention. It makes me want to read your blog and hear what you have to say. you did a very good job explaining what to do and alternatives to not do things.
    The related posts are also helpful. It is always good to have something else for references. Your post is easy to follow and understand. I like how you set up the blog post. It was very smart to show the problem and then follow with a solution.
    Your blog theme is very clean and not distracting. You have set up your blog in an easy to find manner.

  2. […] I hope you are having a wonderful time in Europe and that you get back to the states safely. How to Drive a Journalist Crazy! by Maggiecrowley July 12, 2010 on 7:54 pm   I love your title. It really grabs my attention. It […]

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