Depending on which reporter you ask, PR pros can either be angels or demons.
Though the two communication-industry professions are often seen at odds with one another, potential rifts are made bigger by common, yet deadly, media relations sins.
These bad behaviors can get your pitch thrown in the garbage, make you the subject of a #PRFail tweet and ensure that you don’t see your story—or client’s name—in a headline:
1. Not providing enough information.
Journalists are up against deadlines and are often trying to complete the work meant for two or more, especially with shrinking newsrooms and a scramble for eyeballs on published content.
Don’t make their jobs harder by making them hunt down information that you could easily provide, including expert quotes, meaningful statistics and high-quality images and videos.
2. Being too clingy—or ghosting.
If there’s one thing reporters don’t need, it’s incessant follow-up emails and phone calls to an already overflowing inbox and voicemail.
Though it can be frustrating not to hear from journalists—and persistence can pay off, sometimes—don’t follow up more than once (and if you do, give it at least 24 hours). Instead, focus on building a relationship. If you open the line of communication long before you pitch, you have a better chance of having your email recognized, read and welcomed.
Just as annoying as a PR pro who won’t take no for an answer is one who is too busy for a reporter’s time.
We all have busy schedules, but this isn’t Tinder: Playing hard to get won’t help land you coverage.
3. Refusing to accept that your story isn’t news.
Some stories do not have to be told.
PR pros are often put in a tough position when their clients insist on landing headlines but have nothing of value to share. Do your best to redirect their enthusiasm and desires toward providing expert commentary on a trending topic or crafting an evergreen press article, because no one wants to hear (or write) about your new office, promotion or “game-changing” product.
Tip: If no reporter is biting, it isn’t a story that must be told.
4. Trying too hard to steal the spotlight.
The bad behavior is made worse when it’s sprayed out to every journalist you can think to email.
Though it’s tempting to contact many in hopes of increasing the chances of a response, properly vetting your story—and the recipient—can yield much more fruitful results.
Some PR pros have dropped the façade and don’t even hide their attempts to pitch irrelevant press releases.