5 resolutions for journalists
26th February 2014
Here are my five resolutions for all you lovely, but infuriating, journalists, to help us all play together nicely, and ultimately allow me to get through the month without resorting to litre bottles of RC Whisky:
Get our clients’ names and job titles right
Please, for the love of God, just do this for us. You know how obsessed people are with print. Even if you correct it online it’s too late, you’ve ruined the scan of the hard copy. Also, honestly, it’s really not that hard. It’s not like I don’t email it to you, right after the interview, so all you need to do is copy and paste it across. Come on. Give me a break! Please …
Turn up for meetings
Like, obviously not if you’re dying of flu, or food poisoning, or whatever, but do try and make the interviews/meetings. It’s basic human courtesy. Also, if, for whatever reason, you have to cancel, please let me know in good time, rather than when my client has already got on the train from another city to come meet you, or when we’re already in the restaurant and I’m calling your mobile. BASIC HUMAN COURTESY, that’s all I want.
Stop writing up shit surveys
Hat tip to the lovely people over at @PRinjustice for bringing this one to light. Mainly it’s a gripe about journalists bitching about all the crap research that’s done by some PR firms, but then simultaneously running loads of puff pieces based on similar shit research. To be honest with you, it’s a half-gripe, but as long as you keep covering it, clients will keep asking for it, and we’re all trapped in a vicious cycle of gratuitous surveys, which isn’t fun for any of us. If, as seems likely, you’re running that stuff because readers like it, then just admit it, and we’ll all just get on with it.
If you say you want to be removed from the press list, understand that this means you will be REMOVED FROM THE LIST
This happens a lot, someone is on the press list, and they get a few things they aren’t that interested in, the kind of half-news that clients make you send out and sometimes does okay on a slow news day. Then, said journalists sends an email asking to be removed from the list (though it’s usually less polite than that). A month or so later, your client has massive news, which you duly announce to your list. Almost immediately, an angry call comes from the journalists furious that they didn’t get the release, when they’d asked to be removed from the list. Unacceptable. And infuriating. And pissed-off making. And guaranteed to ensure that you’re blacklisted from all future big news.
Also – while we’re on this one, its cousin "people who don’t read the press release and then angrily call you asking why they weren’t sent it, just because they can’t be bothered to check their emails properly" and its’ great aunt "people who say they prefer to be contacted by email, but ostensibly only ever cover something if you call them first" are also things that are likely to send me, and my fellow colleagues, straight off the deep end.
Stop naming and shaming on Twitter
This is one that makes me, personally, extremely angry. Every time it happens. Mainly because I think it comes from journalists not really understanding how PR agencies work. In my experience, often sell-ins are done by very junior trainee execs, who are doing exactly what they are told to by their bosses. So by all means, name and shame the PR agency, but don’t name and shame the poor 20 year old who was only doing their job. It’s bullying, and it’s nasty and it’s bloody superior as well. In fact, from now on, maybe I’ll name and shame all journalists who have broken any of points one to four, just to redress the balance …
The good news is that if everyone gets on board with this, I’ll be significantly less angry this year. The bad news is that just writing it has made me pissed off.