Archives for May 26, 2009

{Rules of PR no.7} Top 7 PR Mistakes made with Journalists

Ceci n'est pas un café by Kathfitz via Flickr. All Rights Reserved 2009. 

As public relations professionals we all want our stories out there. We want to promote our clients and their brands. But sometimes our profession is guilty of alienating our fellow communications peers with overkill and lackluster.

1. No knowledge of journalism

There are two reasons for this: public relations students are not taught anything about journalism in their universities and there are, what I like to call, “PR imposters” who, without any real public relations knowledge, call themselves PR pros and sell our profession to the masses.

Countering the former versus the latter is the easier of the two. But at the end of the day, if you want to reach out to a journalist, try to understand them.

A newspaper is not just something you read on a Sunday morning, or during the week with your coffee and scone. A newspaper is a wealth of information. It is put together by knowledgeable people who wish to educate you on the world as it lives its daily life.

The sooner that respect is given, the sooner it shall be reciprocated.

2. Following up on a press release

A journalist is a very busy person. Their days start early and end late. They have morning meetings before they head out into the field and sometimes they get lost finding ‘the field’ putting a dent in their schedule. It is the little thing called human error.

And they are human. They are busy. Just like you and I.

The job of a journalist is to get stories out to the public. These are stories that they deem “relevant information.”

You and I are not the only ones throwing stories in their direction. Journalists get thousands and thousands of ‘tips’ every single day that flood the main news desk as well as their own personal e-mails.

The bottom line is, if it is relevant to them, they will call you.

That is not to say that you shouldn’t follow up at all. But if you do, call them, leave a message and wait at least 24-hours for them to respond.

It is a common courtesy.

3. No Respect for Deadlines

Every newspaper is different. Deadlines can be anywhere from 5 p.m. to midnight. It’s up to you to call the newspaper or ask the journalist when their cut-off is.

That should be the first, no further than second, question out of your mouth.

Respecting the deadline of a journalist will show them that you value their time. They will return the favor.

4. Starting a phone call WITHOUT saying first, “Do you have time to talk?”

Not everyone thinks the same way and we should not assume that just because we have the time, someone else does too.

You call your friends to ask, “What’s up? Do you have time to hang out?” So why not throw that same attitude in the direction of business.

Call up your journalist of choice, and the first thing you should ask them, before you ask the “When is your deadline?” speech should be, “Hi, do you have time to talk right now?”

If your journalist is busy ask them, “When would be a good time to call back?”

Don’t say you will call them back and e-mail them instead.

Call them back.

Staying true to your word and honoring their time will show journalists that they can relax around you. A journalist will be more open to talking to you and running your stories should you prove yourself to be of an accountable type.

5. Calling multiple times per day

As mentioned in mistakes 2, 3 and 4 – journalists are busy.

I’m not saying they should be treated ‘special’ or that they are better than you and I. But that they are human too – and as I’ve mentioned before, they are not story making machines. Their profession just happens to be a profession that will enhance yours should they bite your bait.

If you leave them a message, they will return your call. If they leave you a message, you should return their call.

If you leave them a message with information, just like with a press release, if it is relevant to them, they will call you.

Remember, you are not the only one calling their voicemail and the news desk. So join the line and be respectful like everyone else.

Trust, that if you show to be a respectful professional, they will respect you. Journalists will return the favor and likely give your press release precedence over another.

Remember what your parents told you when you were a kid?

“Respect is earned, not given.”

6. Calling to confirm the confirmation

If you confirm to meet with a journalist at a specific time and place, believe that they will show up. You need not call to confirm the confirmation that you are meeting with them.

That is just bad showmanship on your part and exhibits that you, not only have no faith that they are a free-thinking, rational human being, but that you simply do not trust them.

Journalists are organized; they have to be in their field. They know what is happening and when it is happening. If they pencil you in to their calendar in the “before,” “in between” or “after,” rest assured they will not forget.

Should they leave you hanging? They are human just like you.

Take it as a lesson learned.

Never let your bad experience with one journalist leave a bad taste in your mouth for the rest of them.

The same should apply for journalists dealing with public relations professionals.

Everyone is different. One rotten fruit should not spoil the lot.

7. Pumping with fantasy versus reality

If a journalist wants to use you as a source continuously, they must trust that you are reliable.

Do not stretch the truth or exaggerate your brand or client. It will hurt you in the long-run.

Just like in every profession, people ‘talk.’

It can take years to build a good reputation; it can take minutes to destroy it.

Think before you write.

Remember, you are how you write.

Little Pink Book’s Rule of PR #7:
Treat journalists as if they are one of your target audiences.
Learn what they like and what they do not like.
By understanding them, you are helping them to better understand you.
This paves the way to a healthy working relationship.


Sasha Muradali runs the ‘Little Pink Book’ . She holds a B.S. in Public Relations and an M.A. in International Administration.

Copyright © 2009 Sasha H. Muradali. All Rights Reserved.

Going Hyper-Local

Communication by Elycefeliz via Flickr.

By: Stuart Foster, guest blogger

The internet has been a game changer for PR. Social media has taken that game and raised it to another level. Everyone is plugged in, relationships are constantly in play and the room for error is nil.

Here’s the good news: this should actually make your job easier. Now you can target new sources, bloggers, and journalists through a variety of different channels. One way in which I have had a great deal of success is building up a local network.

Everyone wants to hit the front page of the NY Times. Hardly anyone ever does. The reason? You are competing with millions of PR people and any breaking news. What should you do? Go to journalists you know.

Embrace that personal, friendly and local touch that may have been sanitized out of you by pitching a huge amount of massive media conglomerates. With local influencers, the key is familiarity and your personal relationship. The channels that content has to travel through to be approved are also likely to be reduced.

The age of big media wins is essentially over. It’s all about conquering a plethora of smaller markets and expecting the bigger main stream media outlets to jump on the story once it reaches critical mass. This also will prove better for your long term SEO strategy (more proliferation of links) and will also add to your presence/brand online.

Ideally, you will have built up a substantial network of bloggers, influencers and journalists within your local area. If you haven’t, you likely aren’t doing your job very well. If this is the case, it’s definitely not too late. But you need to start now!

So how do you appeal to your local reporters/bloggers? Hit up networking events, drop an email or call randomly to check in, ask them what their ideal story is, and be a generally cool person. The best sources are always available, always informed and ready with information to best assist the creation of a story.

Remember…it’s about quality coverage AND quantity coverage. Take care of both and you will be indispensible to your client.

Stuart Foster is an independent social media/marketing consultant. Addicted to Bolt, Facebook, and other Social Media since their inception, he has taken this enthusiasm for new media to make connections, blog market, and other marketing efforts within those realms. He enjoys massive quantities of diet coke/caffeine, Boston sports, running (slowly) and has a tendency to lose jackets.

Copyright © 2009 Sasha H. Muradali. All Rights Reserved.

{Tickled Pink} Love is like…

Smiling Flowers by MethoxyRoxy. All Rights Reserved 2009.

Love is like wildflowers; It’s often found in the most unlikely places.


 Copyright © 2009 SashaHalima PR. All rights reserved.