A survey by UK-based PR week found journalists think half the PR people they deal with are not good at their jobs.
The main complaint of journalists was that PR people don’t spend enough time looking at the output of the media they pitch to, making the stories of their clients irrelevant.
We hear the same complaints from New Zealand journalists. They say they are called by, largely, young PR people who make no attempt to link the media outlet’s interests with the story of their client.
This is an awful waste, given the money spent in time and fees on preparing the stories. It’s effectively very ham-fisted spamming. It makes journalists angry, not just with the PR company, but with their clients.
That’s why BlacklandPR established the dedicated position of media specialist, filled by John Mitchell, an ex-journalist. His job is relationships with media, and shaping stories for them to use.
John says that when it works well, relationships are mutually beneficial.
“We pitch only in stories that we have shaped and tested to be of interest to the journalist. If we get it right, they have a story that meets their needs, and our clients are happy.
“In an ideal situation there is no need for animosity – we are pitching good stories to the right people, and they are awake to the opportunities in what we’ve found.”
One respondent to the PR Week survey explained that journalists are often rude and grumpy due to “crap” public relations consultants pitching “irrelevant ideas”.
John says the problem of bad stories occurs earlier in the story design process.
“The task for media relations is to find things about clients that be interesting to customers and others and will improve their reputation. This isn’t always the thing the client thinks is interesting.
“Journalists, and their audience, want to hear about things that are new, substantive, and have actually happened. The only time mere opinions get covered is when they are provocative, novel or are good advice.”