(Some) PR People Are Annoying (written by a PR person)

April 19, 2009 by  
Filed under All, Featured, PR

Public relations for hotelsOK, let me start by saying I am a PR person. And there are certainly plenty of us out there who know what we’re doing and are making great strides for our clients and companies. But good god, there are still an awful lot of us who give the rest of us a bad rap, who don’t understand PR but who think they do.

I wrote this post after doing a media interview on the site of a local shopping center. The “PR person” for the center sauntered up during the middle of the interview to inform the journalist that she was “supposed” to check in with them and that no footage of the shopping center was to be used. Hello? You don’t want publicity about your shopping center? Isn’t that your job?

Let me say that I do understand that media isn’t always nice, so we do have to be cautious about what they do, but to say that under no circumstances was video of the shopping center to be used seems ridiculous to me. She could have stood there and listened to the interview to know it was completely innocuous. I come from the camp of thinking of media as friends rather than always assuming the worst. I think an attitude of constant mistrust will not get you far when working with media.

Here’s what else I don’t like about (some) PR people:

1) Not getting back to journalists in a timely fashion.

2) Charging an arm and a leg and not getting anything besides a local TV talk show appearance for a client.

3) Being overly controlling about every word said about your company or client. For example, insisting you be a part of every interview your client has with the media. Here’s a tip: Journalists don’t like that and most will not want to work with you again if they can avoid it.

4) PR Speak – Please, no subjective language (unique, very, excellent, truly) in a press release. It’s up to the reader (the journalist) to make a judgement about what we’re saying based on the facts we present.

5) A lack of news judgement. Don’t pitch a journalist on something that is not newsworthy! They will forever not pay attention to you, whereas if you bring them something newsworthy every time, when you call, they will answer and better yet — listen. Isn’t that our goal?

I’ve certainly made some of these mistakes in my career, but I learned from them and changed my behavior. I wrote this post in the hopes that more of us will do the same. What bugs you about PR people? How can we improve to better represent our industry? What makes for a good PR person?

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Comments

7 Responses to “(Some) PR People Are Annoying (written by a PR person)”
  1. Liza Jones says:

    A-MEN, sister!! I wholeheartedly agree with all of your points. It’s unfortunate that there are bad apples in our industry, but I’d assume that’s true in every profession. It’s up to those of us who value the work to raise the bar for everyone else.

  2. Kira Perdue says:

    BRAVO, Lynn! Well said. Next, i’d like to see you tackle “Why Journalists are Annoying” (to turn the tables). I’ve often wanted to remind certain reporters that they are writers of news, not curers of cancer (for all the importance they can assign themselves).

  3. Lyn Mettler says:

    Absolutely. Journalists are equally as annoying in their own way. :) I’ll have to do a post on that.

  4. I think your sentiments are understood by a lot of us. As a small business owner I have felt under-served by the majority of PR free-lancers I’ve worked with (until recently) and been frustrated by the difficulty of getting reporters to work with us on stories.

  5. Chris Tatum says:

    You’re right on the money
    I spent years as a TV news reporter before launching my PR company. As a reporter I trashed nearly every press release I received. Seldom do PR people write releases that hold my attention much less that a producer can cut and paste and have the anchors read verbatim. Put another way, far too many PR professionals can’t write worth a crap.
    Equally as annoying to a reporter is a publicist who thinks their job is to insulate their client from the media. If a reporter needs your client in their story they’ll get them in. They may have to write you in and talk about how you dodged them (which makes your client look like they’re hiding something) but they’ll get you in. You have far more control of how you’re presented if you agree to an interview.
    Finally, few PR people have a clue about what’s needed to make a news story. Your press release represents YOUR client’s position. There are ALWAYS at least two sided to a story and any reporter worth a crap is going to include both. The story doesn’t always have to be JUST about your client for our client to get favorable press out of it.
    I think journalist make the best PR reps.

  6. Lyn Mettler says:

    Oh my gosh, will you come to work for me, right now??? :) I 100% agree and also think journalists make the best PR folks. Great comment!!

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  1. […] if you want to read a little more PR 101 you can check out Lyn Mettler’s article called (Some) PR People Are Annoying (Written By A PR Person). It lays out grievances that I think are far more valid and that I can confirm I’ve heard […]