I’ve just had one of my least favourite things. A PR person sent me a press release yesterday, aimed at a particular outlet for which I write. He or she has just sent a polite follow-up: sorry to hassle, they said, but they wondered whether the news story was of interest.
Why yes, is the answer. That is why it is on the front page of the site at which you were aiming it.
I’m still trying to work out why it was easier to email me and wait for a response rather than click onto the site – I’m guessing “because that’s how we do things” is the answer, The weird thing is that it’s not the first time this has happened. It’s not even the first time this week.
I’m not one of these journalists you get, of whom there are quite a few, who tell PR people not to follow up at all. First and foremost, I get that you’re accountable to clients rather than to me. There is no particular reason you should do what I say, and if I’m calling myself “journalist” – particularly a business journalist – then fielding information and calls from you guys is just something to which I’ve signed up. It’s part of the deal.
Another part of the deal, though, is that you’re supposed not to ask stupid questions, and “have you found a use for this story” when it’s on the front page of your target publication is seriously one of the daftest. This isn’t a vanity thing, you need to be reading. On this occasion the PR person was probably perfectly happy with what I’d written. That’s not actually a worry to me, as long as it’s accurate I’ve done my job.
What if I’d written something inaccurate or misleading? You’re not going to know if you’re not reading.
I’m not suggesting the PR community needs to be reading every website every day (a Google Alert will take a lot of the work out of that for you). But if you’re going to pitch to a specific site for which I write, one that swallows up multiple news stories every day, and then follow up, at least check to see if the story is on there before hitting “send”.
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