Accessibility Links

How to deal with journalists

19/07/2013

Like baboons and badgers or lawyers and bears, journalists and PR people can be seen as having an inchoate animosity to each other that is easily brought out when they are seen interacting in their natural habitats.

However, the link between the two professional groups is also comparable to the symbiotic relationship between African oxpeckers and elephants - that is, both can be useful to each other and in fact require each other's help regularly.

For people in external communications or PR jobs, dealing with journalists remains a fairly common occurrence, even though the emergence of social media has made it easier to connect with customers or service users more directly.

But how can you make sure you both get what you want out of the interaction while keeping everyone involved sweet? Horror stories of rude, over-worked journalists abound, but the reality is that remembering a few simple tips can help most situations go smoothly.

According to consultancy firm The Progressive Business Group (TPBG), one good way of starting interactions on the front foot is to make sure you're well-versed in the tone and content of the particular news source you're hoping to use as a platform.

While that might sound basic, it's easy to forget when under pressure or working to a deadline, and confusing the editor of a knitting magazine with the editor of a hunting magazine can have embarrassing consequences.

Furthermore, TPBG added that phoning journalists unnecessarily to see if they've received your press release can be perceived as overly pushy.

"Phoning the editor won’t make it more relevant. If you've done your PR job properly, sending the release to relevant magazines and writing it so the story is readily apparent, then you shouldn't need to phone the magazine at all; they'll call you," the organisation added.

Finally, the latest Buzzword Report from Twelve Thirty Eight pointed out that PR's tendency to use hyperbolic words such as "awesome" and "super-excited" is irritating and juvenile - so keep the fluff to the minimum and push the story to the fore.

Looking for a new role? Send us your CV