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PR Grouch explains what journalists really mean

17th October 2013


Us PR folk are famous for our silver tongues, although no one has ever praised me for mine for some strange reason. Journalists, on the other hand, are better known for being brusque. Yet some can be quite charming. In fact, they can be so charming, you might get the impression you are their friend.

But let’s be honest. Journalists need us, but they don’t like us. Sometimes I get fooled by a fantastic lunch with a journalist, only to realise afterwards that I have been taken for a ride. They obviously enjoyed the venue, the food and spotting celebrities, but having to share it with a PRO was a drawback. The clues for this are that they never reply to any of my subsequent emails or calls and the client news they said was “fascinating” was never used.

I’m not saying you should NEVER trust a journalist, but here are some phrases to watch out for:

“I’ll get back to you“
No, they won’t.

“Off the record“
Once you’ve told a journalist, of course it’s not off the record!

“I’ll confirm when this story will run later”
It’s never going to run.

“I just have to check this with the editor”
Another way of saying “no thanks”.

“I would love to meet for lunch, I’ll email you some dates"
And then they’ll “forget”.

“Could you call me back tomorrow, as I’m on a deadline now”
They won’t answer their phone tomorrow as the day after deadline is go-to-the-pub day.

“I didn’t make that mistake, it was the sub-editor”
Judging by the amount of blame that journalists put on sub-editors, they must all be incompetent scoundrels! Why does anyone employ them?

“The story was dropped at the last minute due to space restrictions”
They never put the story through.

“My email system has been playing up”
They deleted your email without reading it (again).


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