But you said you liked the pitch!!!
Last week we ran a guest listicle about the top things public relations flacks do that piss off our media contacts. We’ve seen a lot of these lists, and the whole thing sometimes feels like a bit of a one-sided conversation, so in a follow-up post we asked our readers to suggest some points from the other side of the screen. Here, without further ado, are eleven things the media does that really irritate PR.
1. Greeting pitches with total silence:
We know you have more important things to do, but unless we’re pitching you something as ridiculous as the “woman-proof car” you could at least write a simple “No, not interested.
We know that PR can be annoying sometimes and that
a fewa fair number of bad apples threaten to spoil this bunch, but that doesn’t give you an excuse to ignore all of us. You can be snide if you want (we expect it) and you don’t even need to include a fancy salutation or a “thanks so much for sharing!”
2. Answering the phone like a jerk:
At a party this week, we spoke to a prominent tech journalist who said he’s perfectly happy to answer the phone but that the junior flacks tasked with calling him are often so nervous that he has to give them some “take a deep breath and read the script slowly” guidance. This is OK, but some writers take it much further by behaving like reps are tax collectors or divorce lawyers. Do you really want to confirm your own negative stereotypes?
3. Refusing to use the phone at all:
Not taking cold calls is one thing; we know how bad those can be. But insisting that we contact you via email and sit on our hands waiting for you to email us back? Come on, people. If you don’t follow up after promising to do so, then it’s perfectly reasonable for us to call.
4. Evading us completely:
Dude. If you don’t like the pitch just say it. We know you’ve been crazy busy, but there’s a reason we want to make sure you plan to quote our client in your upcoming trend piece: by the time you publish it’s too little, too late.
5. Forgetting the client’s name during an interview:
PRWeek says this happens nearly half of the time, because what the hell? Could anything be more dismissive than making clear that you don’t know or care who you’re talking to after the interview begins? Were you planning to brush up on names, addresses and “what the hell you do for a living” info during the call?
6. Deviating from the topic at hand:
Why do you think we insisted that you not ask about our client’s pending divorce, rehab visit or failed business venture?! Do you know the meaning of the word “conditional?”
7. Expecting us to deliver resources at the last minute:
Yes, you have a deadline. Yes, you’d really love for us to give you a quote in the next 15 minutes. No, that is not a realistic request. There’s a reason we pitched the source three days ago!
. Not letting us know when a story goes live:
How can we promote the story you posted when we don’t know that you posted it? It’s not like we Google stalk you every hour; you’re not the only writer we know.
It is always comforting to hear the calming sounds of a pissed-off client who gets home in time to see the last five seconds of a three-minute interview filmed earlier in the day. The DVR wasn’t set, the reminder wasn’t in the iPhone and, most importantly, the PR rep didn’t call. Appreciate that help, guys.
9. Agreeing to an interview/product review and never writing about it:
Hey, where did you go?
It is fun when we can secure a spot, jump through hoops of fire to send you the product or schedule the interview, follow-up to confirm that—against all odds—you actually liked it…and then wait five months for you to kindly let us know that it got “bumped” while we try to tell our clients why the story never appeared. If you just want free stuff, you can make that clear up front.
10. Procrastinating on writing an “exclusive” story and then getting mad when we pitch it somewhere else:
Yes, the agreement was “exclusive” when we discussed it, but you know these things are time-sensitive. As far as next week or month, we have a job that relies on securing that placement rather than watching you drag your feet. If you have other obligations we totally understand, but you could have shared that news with us.
And waiting until the “exclusive” shows up somewhere else to get upset? Just look at how sorry Peggy Olsen feels for you.
11. Generalizing about how much “those people” suck:
Yes, some of us are eager beavers who can’t understand why you wouldn’t want to take our ridiculous story. And some of us are condescending old-school haters ready to tell anyone who’ll listen that you wouldn’t even be able to do your jobs without us. Most of us, however, are neither of those things—and complaining about how much you hate PR isn’t going to make things better. We have feelings too, you know? (Well, the ones that are good at this job. The rest of us are cold-hearted bastards.)
Now we have to make a confession as members of “the media”: this blog is guilty of a couple of these cardinal sins, primarily #1 and #3. We also sometimes pull #2 and #8 and, after a few drinks, a tiny little bit of #11. We apologize and we promise we’ll do better.
Sound good? OK.
Now come on, readers: we know you have some points to add to this GIF-athon. Don’t be shy.
DISCLAIMER: This post was written as a light parody of the relationship between hacks and flacks and the stereotypes each side holds about the other. We thought the tags and GIFs would give that away.