It is pretty clear that the relationship between a public relations practitioner and a journalist is of a symbiotic nature. And as a journo, there a couple of things that I (and I think most journalists) wished our counterparts knew. So no more wishing, here are five tips that will ensure that we coexist happily ever after by me, journalist Amanda Maiba from the Independent Newspaper.
- Do your research on the different beats that exist in writing
There is nothing as frustrating as receiving pitches of stories/news that have NOTHING to do with what you write about. We both need each other to get work done and I would love to think that journos value PR officers more, but let’s face it, the journalism world is fast paced and when they receive “irrelevant” data all the time, they pretty much shut down and cringe whenever your email pops up.
- Persistency is good, but sometimes not so good
As I mentioned before, journalism is fast paced and forever moving. A journos mind is everywhere at once and won’t always be interested in last week’s bacon. So in most cases, if the journo didn’t bite the first time, chances are they are vegetarian. Keep moving
- PR work doesn’t always sell the paper
As journos, we are always looking for interesting angles, something newsworthy that will get people to purchase the paper/magazine and they do not always want to read about how good company x and y. So when pitching story ideas, leave the “company x is amazing” bit of the story and give us gripping, topical ideas/stories that will turn us into vegetarians (remember the bacon story).
- Email overload
PR officers have a list of contacts to which they send a string of emails to, whenever they have good news to share. Ever heard of, one size fits all? Well that doesn’t apply to all journos. This goes back to understanding the different beats. Some journalists would be ecstatic to hear of the new CEO or the new product that was produced, but not everyone will. So one size really does not fit all.
- And last but certainly not least, do not bully the journos
I laugh when I think of this and yes I might be using a strong term but trust me, after speaking to a couple of my colleagues, we sometimes feel bullied. By bullying I mean, being emotionally blackmailed into doing interviews or covering a certain story. As much as some things do not fall within our field of expertise, some things are just not good enough to run with. Do not suggest setting up interviews unless we request for it.
And there you have it ladies and gents. Let’s get the top five checked out and we promise to never ignore your mail again. Help us help you for a happy ever after.