If you’re in PR or you’re a journalist you’ve probably read a ton of articles on PR journalist relations. You’ve probably heard every analogy out there. From the relationship is like a car manufacturer and its supplier or like a pizza delivery guy. You’ve probably heard on this issue from much more authoritative and qualified sources then me like Rohit Bhargava on what Journalists should know about PR people and the Reverse.
So the obvious question is why am i writing about this issue? because quite simply I think we’ve overcomplicated the issue. To improve the relationship we should treat each other like… PEOPLE.
Any mistakes we make as journalists or as PR people is treating the other as an object a thing not a person. We’re not journalists, PR people, sources or reporters we’re simply people.
As a PR person I need to know a journalist is a person. So I don’t want to constantly call them or e-mail them because like most people they’re busy and they’re not waiting around for your magical information. I also understand they don’t want me filling their mailboxes with junk. But lets be honest everyone is busy and no one wants junk in their inbox so if I just remember that they’re a person I wouldn’t be doing either of those things anyway.
So what can I do better? research the journalist and what they write about make sure my pitch is personalized and relevant to them; almost like I’m writing to a person. Understand the difference between information and a story. Reporters are people doing a job and that job is writing interesting stories make sure there’s really something there not just information you want to get out there.
What am i hoping journalists will do better? Understand PR people are also people doing a job. That job is to get our company or clients press and we can’t do that if we haven’t talked to you. If you tell us you’re not interested, while unfortunate its fine because we can move on. If you don’t respond how do we know you even got the message? Especially if the PR person is working for a small business without some of the resources of a big PR firm the uncertainty is even greater.
Don’t take me at all for an idealist I don’t expect a personalized response from every pitch a PR person makes (even if the pitch itself is personalized), it’s just not realistic or necessary. So my suggestion in addition to the mindset change is in today’s information age lets simply move to the read receipt.
If PR people attach read receipts to their e-mails, especially the first time they contact a reporter, and the reporter took the half a second it takes to click the ‘yes I’ll send a read receipt button’ how much smoother would this whole process go?
I’ll know you got it and if you’re not interested you don’t have to respond. I’m happier because at least now I know. You’ll be happier because you’ll get a ton fewer calls and e-mails because it’ll be just that obvious you’re not interested.
I know I know, read receipts are annoying, but really wouldn’t it make the process easier for everyone?