So, I thought, out of (admitted) oversaturation, I would take another shot at this age-old, repackaged blog post and get straight to the point: What do PR people actually want?
If you’re looking at this from the outside in, I’m sure you’re immediately jumping to the stereotypical conclusions that we try so hard to dissolve:
PR people exist solely to waste journalists’ time by pitching flowery, advertorial-esque, non-substantive stories to be able to gather together a bundle of clips at month’s end.
Please, I beg of you – don’t believe it! This is not what we want. And when I say “we,” I mean the good of us. I’m here to give you an unmanufactured look into the “PR agenda” to reveal that there really is none at all.
PR people perform a job — a job that, most of the time, is an asset to journalists. The way bad PR people screw this up is they conform to the stereotype. They fall into peer pressure and make life difficult for those of us who care about our clients, value our piece of the media delivery puzzle and prioritize good news. They are the ones who are giving us a bad rep.
I would like to believe they are the minority.
So, what do I want? What would make my life a little bit easier, pitching journalists and bloggers great stories that will directly impact their readers and communities?
1) A good client
I’m not going to lie – a good client makes all the difference in the world. For you, too, journalists! A good client keeps us in the know of upcoming events or business developments. They keep us informed of novel activities that may interest the public. A good client also realizes that PR people sometimes need to dig deep into what the client is doing in order to be able to serve it up as something others would be interested in reading or knowing.
2) A good local or industry angle
Clients come to us to package their news into a story that will make sense for various audiences. This is what we PR people want, but truthfully, I don’t think we actually expect anyone to help us out with this one. I actually find this part fun to sculpt on my own. Getting to creatively sell a story? Now that’s what we signed up for! And that’s what journalists are looking forward to sharing with their audiences!
3) A response
Despite what you may think, I am not a fan of stalking. I actually rather despise it. However, I realize that politely following up is part of the job. I understand the fact that writers are busy and sometimes emails or phone calls fall through the cracks. If this is the case, I don’t mind following up at a convenient time for you. I also understand that you don’t always want to write about my story or my client, and I respect that. If this is the case, I would LOVE it if you sent me a simple “yes” or “no” in an email. I sometimes request that my contacts do this. It saves so much hassle. I now know that you are uninterested and you savor the fact that you will not continue to receive phone calls. All in all, then the world is a better place.
4) A respectful journalist
I completely respect the fact that sometimes the story I have suggested might not be the best fit for your column or blog post, or maybe you’re being pulled in so many directions that you’d really like to write about whatever it is I am sharing with you, but you don’t have time. Again, I completely understand this, and I appreciate you being honest with me. This makes all the difference in the world. I would love to talk with you to figure out how I can help you in the future, so both of us benefit from this collaboration. A media person is a resource, and as a good PR person, I would always like to reciprocate.
These four things can make all the difference in the world in what, contrary to popular belief, is not a dog-eat-dog PR versus media world. If one of these criteria is not met, the success of the story on any outlet is jeopardized instantly.
So now, I ask you…why can’t we all just get along? Journalists, I’m curious – point blank – what do you want?