Journalists and PR professionals need each other, but we see the world from entirely different points of view. While our needs are somewhat symbiotic, we have different goals and visions of success. As a PR pro, it is in your best interest to develop strong relationships with the writers who cover your space. This is easier if you think of things from their prospective from time to time. To that end, we’ve compiled a short list of questions you should avoid if you want to remain on your contact’s good side.
Can I review the story before it is published?
No. No, you can’t. Journalists are ethically obliged to report facts and observations, not marketing materials. If you want to have complete control over what is published about your brand, you’ll need to buy an ad. Otherwise, you’ll have to trust the journalist and their editors to get the story right.
Can we reschedule our call?
In most cases, you are lucky to have gotten on the schedule in the first place. Asking to reschedule is the same as telling the reporter that they are not as important as whatever else you have going on. Most PR pros know this, but it is important that your clients or brand spokespeople internalize this as well. Once you have a time for a call, make it happen.
Will you send me a copy of the magazine/newspaper?
Reporters are not administrative assistants. Having the printed piece is worth the investment to buy it. Some publications will be happy to sell you reprints of an article – for a fee. Talk to the advertising department about this, not the journalist.
Did you get my email?
I actually think that most people hate this question because it is a bit of an accusation. If the answer is “yes” and they cared about it enough to act, you’d already know they got it. This isn’t to say, that you can’t follow up. After an appropriate interval (not immediately after hitting “send”), it is fine to call and say that you are following up to see if you can provide any more information about your subject.
Can we schedule a meeting so that I can tell you my news?
If you can’t craft an email or press release that will get the journalist’s attention, don’t expect that you’ll be able to do it over the phone. Time is valuable and it must be earned with a compelling pitch. It isn’t reasonable to expect a reporter to give you a meeting before they know if they are interested in the news.
It is important to keep in mind that journalists are more than just a handy conduit for your brand’s messages. Approach your relationship with the goal of building trust and respect. What you really want is to be the PR person that actually makes the journalist’s life easier.