Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Hacks guide to managing PR people

Some other bloggers out there, him, and him, have been hat tipping and passing on links to stories focused on the relationships between PRs and journalists. Like this one here.

There's also this one here. And this one here about how not to sell a story to a newspaper. And a simple 100 tips for Rubelle Pymley-Bowles and her sushi sisters from Ostentatious PR, from an editor in Bristol who is weighed down by a mere 250 emails a day.

There's often a real piety from journalists on this subject (see above). When you look at it from the other point of view, it's clear there's teeth grinding frustration there too. I tried to find a link to this list of tips for hacks in dealing with PR people, but couldn't find it. So here it is in full. Source unknown, but you can feel a lot of anger here. Comments welcome, but there is a more serious issue of quality control that lies beyond this.


1. Always wait until 5pm on Friday to call looking for a quote that "has to be in today". PR people like the adrenaline rush.

2. Always tell the PR person, "I'm sorry, I don't regard you as a good source for a quote. I need to speak to your boss." This is particularly effective with female PR people.

3. Always be rude. PR people misinterpret politeness as lack of urgency.

4. Always call to demand invitations to events for which you've been overlooked. Then don't show up. Remind them who's boss.

5. Accept all invitations to one-on-one interviews. Then, just before you hang up, make a comment that implies you've always wanted to have a real go at the interviewee and you're looking forward to it. PR people hate to feel secure.

6. Always use the same excuse when you miss interviews. PR people will
eventually get the hint.

7. A good interviewing technique is to interrupt the interviewee and say you're not interested in his/her opinions, but only in answers to your specific questions. This keeps the interviewee from gaining control.

8. Never thank the PR people for anything. Gratitude upsets them.

9. Do not make positive comments regarding information provided or skills such as writing, presentation, or running an event. Better to say things like, "Gosh, the [name rival PR agency here] event I went to was really good. We had champagne."

10. Always tell PR people what kind of giveaways you want. If you're sick of T-shirts, don't hesitate to say so. PR people really welcome the feedback.

11. Assume that every journalist is exactly like you, and whatever you want is what they'll all want. Educate PR people accordingly.

12. Refuse to help PR people get to know you via questionnaires or off-deadline phone calls. What happened to good old-fashioned social skills?

13. Always yell as abusively as possible when PR people *in your estimation* fail to deliver what they promised. Accept no excuses: these people are *paid* to serve you. Make sure they know you'll complain to their client companies if they don't shape up.

14. If you haven't been invited to a PR company's most recent press event, call them and shout at them for ignoring you. Make sure they realise how important you are.

15. If you missed a press conference, call the PR company and shout at them for not checking that you'd gotten the invitation. If they did call, shout at them for nagging you.

16. Always demand a free meal as the price of doing an interview with a company executive.

17. Request a special meeting with a client because you share his personal interests. Put the PR people to great trouble getting tickets and other access to sought-after locations. Reconfirm when the PR people call you the day before. Don't show up. When the PR people call to ask what's happened, say you forgot.

18. On press trips, be unpredictable. Miss the plane.


Anonymous said...

This is a very comical post. I think the list is very good, I especially like one tip about gratitude and not thanking the pr professionals (classic!).

A very great article on what to "not" do to PR people and it definitely made me laugh.



Anonymous said...

An amusing take on the etiquette of journo/PR relationships, but something far more serious is going on in media land: the rise in power and influence of PR people at the expense of journalists. As advertising income falls away, profit-hungry publishers are slashing editorial staffing levels. This is happening across the board, from local rags to the quality national newspapers. Do you think the news you read has been researched and written objectively and with integrity by independent, trained journalists? It’s increasingly likely that an underpaid and overworked hack has just done a copy and paste job on the latest piece of PR flim flam to drop into his mailbox.

Anonymous said...

Liked your list, and thanks for linking my Media Relations 101 post in there too!
In defence of increasingly time-pressured and resource-limited journalists, of course we rely to a greater or lesser extent on PRs.
BUT there is still no excuse for poorly-delivered media relations - a PR Agency or Consultant should be able to consistently demonstrate the very best in media relations practice, if they take their Clients' press relations seriously. Most journos I know only get irate/upset/rude with PRs who do not engage them appropriately. Simple as that. In my experience, of the 250 PR emails I receive on average per day, I can count on 1 hand the number of PRs who consistently add value to my magazines and readerships.
That's not alot of good PR is it? Or maybe lower ranked PR Executives are not getting the right amount of training from Account Directors before they are unleashed on the phone or email to the Media.
Either way, although some hacks undoubtedly need to refresh their PR management skills, it is largely on the backs of PRs to raise their game and improve the services they deliver to the Press ON BEHALF OF their PAYING Clients!


Bristol Editor

Anonymous said...

This is genius. It also appears that a lot of journalists have taken your advice, including soome who managed it before it was given (how so?) Seriously both entertaing and on the mark.

Anonymous said...

I'm not a journalist, however I do work for a global Market Research firm and I have the displeasure of working with many PR Firms. It been my experience that most independent PR firms are worthless at best. PR people always want their hand in the pot, so to speak, but they do nothing but retard the communication process. I try an avoid PR firms like a plague but sometimes get stuck with them. Most PR people could probably be replaced with Mongoloids and we'd have just as good results. Moreover, they never do what's best for their clients, they think they are so smart but I wonder if they know how many of us laugh at them...I did study PR in college so I know what it takes to be in PR and I'm amazed at the idiocy of most all PR professionals.