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April 26, 2011
Saying 'Thank You' to Reporters
 
There's a burst of controversy on the eReleases blog over the post "How to Thank a Reporter Who Covered Your Press Release." Since good media relations are an important aspect of PR, the perspectives involved are worth some attention. eReleases suggests you thank a reporter, in effect, by buttering him or her up. Or, as eReleases puts it, "promote their work." We don't buy that.

Even if there are channels these days — social media or otherwise — that didn't used to exist, buttering up reporters is apt to seem transparent  and, indeed, might be embarrassing to them. We simply don't get sentiments like this (in fact they make us retch): "So get out there and thank them by telling the world all about the reporter’s place of business. Even more importantly, tell the world about the reporter themselves! It’s a boost not only to their self esteem but to their resume and possibly their pay grade. What better way to thank them by possibly getting them more money?"

You're going to get a reporter a raise? And he or she should be grateful to you if you could? Come on now! "Marion" has it exactly right in a comment on the eReleases post: "As a veteran reporter now working PR. I'm appalled by this column and would warn PR people NOT to heed its advice. It is ludicrous. It is neither appropriate nor realistic for any PR person to try to boost a publication's circulation (much less to think they can get someone a raise or a promotion). To even think like this is arrogant, dangerous, and self-defeating.

"Of course if the story is really good, promoting it is appropriate, for your own sake - and reporters in many cases will be quite pleased to see their pieces touted on Twitter, Facebook, blogs and/or company websites.

"But to actually say 'thank you,' the only dignified way is pretty old-fashioned and simple: send a VERY SHORT note that says something like, nice story, we appreciate the coverage, always here to help. Beyond that, you're making a fool of yourself and making the reporter squirm - the exact opposite of what your goal should be."

Exactly. We wonder what possessed eReleases on this one. "Smarmy" is the word that comes to mind for us:  "complacently or effusively earnest". Reporters are likely to feel they are in their jobs for their own sake, and want to be good professionals. They are right.

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Doug Bedell has a background in journalism and PR and is the owner of Resource Relations LLC in Central PA, focusing on organizational and crisis communication. He’s the community manager of SimplyFair.net, a social network on fairness. On the Web, Doug’s at www.ResourceRelations.com. On Twitter, he’s @DougBeetle.
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