HubSpot’s Katie Burke recently compiled a brilliant slideshow titled “S%*t PR People Do That Journalists Hate,” in which she summarizes annoying habits certain PR people have (keyword: certain).
Burke did her due research by reaching out to prominent journalists, including writers and bloggers for The Financial Times, TechCrunch, and more. Some of the most common complaints she received include cold calling, acting desperate, spamming and pitching boring story ideas.
I will admit that there are people in our field who ruin it for the rest of by acting like pushy salesmen or desperate girlfriends. Don’t. Do. It. Follow my advice and you’ll more than likely be respected by journalists:
- Public relations is not just about being a good writer; it is about understanding human behavior. Make an effort to understand people.
- Remain ethical. Don’t pitch something you don’t stand for or believe in.
- Before you pitch something, ask yourself if there is substance behind the story you’re pitching. Is it newsworthy? Compelling? If you don’t buy it, journalists won’t either.
- If your client is seeking press for an event/product/person that isn’t newsworthy, TELL THEM SO. Remember, they’re seeking your advice because you’re an expert, right? So be an expert and manage their expectations.
- And this is where I’m going to coin the term public REALations, because it’s all about being REAL and developing genuine, authentic relationships. Just like relationships you have in your daily life, it takes TIME, effort, face-to-face time, and authenticity.
- Public relations is like dating. Don’t act like a desperate girlfriend. Think about it this way: let’s compare the journalist you’re trying to develop a relationship with with a super hot football player/college jock. He knows he’s wanted. He knows girls (you, PR person) will do whatever it takes to get in front of him. He’s most likely NOT going to fall for the girl calling him desperately, e-mailing him compulsively, following up with a text to see if he got the voicemails and e-mails she sent him five minutes ago. Hello? Sound familiar? Bottom line, if the dude is interested, he’s going to RESPOND. Get it? If a journalist digs your story, he’s going to respond. If not, he’s going to ignore you and dump your butt. Bottom line.
*Shout-out to my mentor Jason Farrell for teaching me that many things in life are like dating.
- More on being real: journalists can smell phony from a distance, and if you pitch a story that makes no sense or isn’t newsworthy to them, you’ll reek like rotten fish and your e-mail will go straight to the trash.
- For God’s sake please don’t send a press release about fashion to a natural habitat magazine. Don’t be lazy. Do your research and make a concerted effort to know who the magazine’s audience is.
- Be honest. Honesty, as with ANY relationship, remains king.
For more on things that PR people do that journalists hate, check out HubSpot’s slideshow below.