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Some bad PR for the PR industry

All I want for 2009 is for PR people not to call me every time they send a press release to see if I received it. I mean, if I didn’t, it would have bounced back, right? If I was interested, I would have replied, and if I wasn’t, well, that’s why I didn’t get back to you! End of.

It’s a subject I’ve discussed with many of my journalist colleagues and we all agree it irritates the hell out of us. While I don’t want to rant against the entire profession (because some of you are my closest allies and even friends), please indulge me in this rant, just once.

I’ve never been privy to PR training but I should imagine the part about sending press releases goes something like this:

  1. Send press release, making sure to write the recipient’s name at the top so it looks like it’s just for them, even though you sent it to every media contact who might be even vaguely interested (points deducted here for those who forget to change the name each time).
  2. Wait about 24 hours (or worse, 5 minutes) and then call journalists to check whether they got it (The temptation here is to answer: “Yes. And??????”).

It’s not like I don’t fully understand your objectives here, but if I’m interested, trust me, I will get back to you! It may sound like something small, but when you spend all day, every day fielding calls from “So-and-so at so-and-so PR” it starts to grate. Big time.

And on the subject of phone calls, what’s with convincing whoever answers the phone that you know me personally, thus convincing them to put you through? (You’re not stupid!). The amount of times I’ve heard: “I’ve got a Caroline on line 2. I’m not sure where she’s from but she sounds like she knows you?” GUARANTEED PR person! My friends don’t phone me at work. For a start, most of them live in the UK with an 11-hour time difference!

So before you all decide to hate me (let’s face it, you’re not going to stop sending me press releases or calling me though, are you?), I had better redeem myself before I end this post. Since coming to Sydney I have met some of the best, most switched-on PR professionals I’ve ever worked with. You know who you are because I continue to work with you month after month. The good ones are like an extension of my editorial team: good writers with great ideas and news sense who understand what a magazine editor is really looking for and keep their promises when it comes to deadlines. Some of you come up with great ideas for features in Dynamic Business that I’d never have thought of myself, and I’m the editor. I am forever grateful for your help and I enjoy working with you.

So how does a PR person get on my good side?

  1. They come and meet me (there’s nothing like putting a face to a name/voice and I can never drink enough coffee).
  2. They don’t badger me if I don’t get back to their email right away.
  3. They spend time actually reading Dynamic Business to work out the sort of features and interviews we would love and those we would find dull or won’t work for our readers.
  4. They have great ideas, are flexible, friendly and don’t take it personally if you don’t like their idea.

*Disclaimer: I love you all really!

Jen Bishop

Jen Bishop

Jen was the publisher at Loyalty Media and editor of Dynamic Business, Australia's largest circulating small business magazine, from 2008 until 2012. She is now a full-time blogger at The Interiors Addict.

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