11 Things the Media Does That Piss Off PR

By Patrick Coffee  This post can originally be found here

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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:

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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 few a 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:

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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:

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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:

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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:

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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:

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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:

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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:

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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:

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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:

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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:

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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.

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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.

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10 things clients get wrong about the media

By: Bruce Serbin                           This original post can be found here

 

I’ve been infuriated lately.

I’m sick and tired of all the bad ideas and strategies I’ve heard from some of my clients and the clients of fellow publicists. I figured I would redirect my frustration by sharing with you the top 10 things anyone working with a publicist needs to understand.

Yes, I’m being blunt, but I’m doing it with the best intentions to keep you from making stupid mistakes that will cost you interviews or, worse, your credibility.

1. No, we can’t ask for the questions ahead of time. 

I will never, ever, ever ask a reporter or TV producer for the questions they plan on asking in your interview ahead of time. So don’t ask me. It will make you and me both look like idiots. If you want to completely undermine your expert status and credibility, go ahead and ask for the questions yourself. You’re supposed to be the authority on your topic, and that’s why the media is talking to you. They expect you to be able to handle anything they throw at you. Asking for the questions tells them otherwise. While we’re at it, no, I also won’t annoy the busy reporter by asking when the story will run. Of course I’ll be happy to check in with him or her after some time has passed.

2. You’re probably not going to get on the “Today” show, so stop asking. 

It’s still laughable to me whenever a client asks, “When will you get me on the ‘Today’ show?” The reality: If you and your topic are a good fit for “Today,” know that I am pitching “Today” and other similar shows. Also realize that just because I have put other people on “Today” and similar national TV shows, that doesn’t mean I can automatically place you there. Yes, my relationships and credibility with producers will help somewhat, but only to a point. The competition is extremely fierce at that level, and although breaking in is possible, it won’t happen for some people.

3. Stop telling me you don’t care about local TV. 

If you don’t care about local TV and are interested only in national TV, you’re an idiot. If I hook a national TV producer on the idea of having you as a guest, the first question he or she will ask me is, “Does this person have any other television experience?” Local TV helps lead to national TV, plus it’s still major credibility in its own right. When someone looks you up on the Internet, what do you want them to see: only things you’ve written or produced about yourself, or credible TV interviews with you, even if they are on local TV?

4. You’re probably not going to sell a lot of books. 

Unless you name is John Grisham or James Patterson, don’t expect to sell a lot of books from appearing in the media, and don’t ask me how many books you’re going to sell. You might sell millions. You might sell none. The one thing I’ve learned about forecasting book sales is that there is no good way to forecast book sales. Being in the media is about building credibility through a third-party implied endorsement, not about selling books. It’s about leveraging your media coverage to help build multiple income streams. Your book might turn out to be one of those streams, but it is more likely to help you earn other income than to be a major profit center in its own right.

5. This isn’t a short-term strategy. 

People call my office and say, “Can I hire you for a month?” The answer is no, because you can’t do this for one month and expect to get big-time results. If you want to hire someone for a month, hire someone else who is happy to take your money and doesn’t care about disappointing you and undermining their own reputation. Publicity is a long-term strategy that takes time and the ability to develop new story angles and play off current events. Those events will happen, but they might not coincidentally happen during the first few weeks. Just as you might advertise for the life of your business, publicity should be approached the same way to continue to build your credibility.

6. Your product, book, or service isn’t going to change the world. 

I believe in my clients and their messages. I really do. Otherwise I wouldn’t be representing them. But I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard, “The media is going to eat this up! This is really going to change lives! It’s a ‘game changer’!” I believe in you, but I hear it every day. Take a step back, and understand that the competition for precious minutes of TV time or inches of print is fierce. Although you probably have a very good idea, it’s not the only one out there, and just because you and I think it’s good, you can’t expect every media outlet to agree.

7. Stop wasting your time with expensive press releases. 

You don’t need a publicist to write a press release and distribute it through a service such as PR Newswire or BusinessWire. You can do that yourself. Most press releases are self-serving and contain no news value. If you still want to pay these companies a lot of money to have your release lost in a sea of press releases so nothing much comes of it, I’m happy to help. I just think there are better ways for you to spend your money.

8. Excuse me for trying to make you interesting. 

Sometimes it’s not what you say but how you say it. You might be the expert of all experts in your field, but if you’re boring, nobody is going to care. My favorite example of what I’m saying is my client Steve Siebold’s book, “Die Fat or Get Tough: 101 Differences in Thinking Between Fat People and Fit People.” His premise: If you’re fat, it’s your fault. That one phrase has resonated on television show after television show all over the world. Of course, he also has plenty of useful but more mundane advice like “eat better and exercise more.” But if he led with that, do you think he would have been featured all over the world? Nope. Spice it up!

9. Lack of results isn’t always the publicist’s fault. 

With anyone I work with, have previously worked with or will one day work with, I give it my all, 100 percent dedication and commitment to doing the best I can. But after all, I’m selling you and your message. I’ve worked with really strong messages and others that aren’t as solid. If you’re not getting the media coverage you believe you’re entitled to, don’t always blame your publicist, but instead take a look at the goods you’re bringing to the table. Not all clients are created equal. Having said that, though, I won’t take a client whose message I don’t think I can sell.

10. I don’t care what your branding strategist or social media team is doing. 

Many of my clients and the clients of other publicists have independent branding consultants, advertising teams, internal marketing people, and social media teams they work with as well. Though I’m always happy to jump on a call with them or hear what they’re up to, it’s usually a big waste of time and doesn’t concern me. I don’t care how many Facebook and Twitter messages your social media team is putting out; I care only about generating a lot of media coverage for you to help you build a massive amount of credibility that you can leverage forever.

Bruce Serbin is president and CEO of Serbin Media, Inc. His work has been recognized by the Associated Press, League of American Communications Professionals and the Public Relations Society of America.