When clients (& management) get in the way of good PR

There is nothing a journo loathes more than an irrelevant blanket press release. Though the follow up phone call for the same press release comes close.

There is nothing a PR loathes more than a client that insists on press releases for press releases sake. Why? Because a good PR knows that sending an irrelevant press release to untargeted media hurts their brand and relationship with said journo and that a follow up phone call kills it.

The client gets no editorial and then blames PR. It is a lose/lose situation.

I feel sorry for the poor junior account executive or co-ordinator being ordered to send said blanket press release and then hung out to dry with the follow up phone call.  He/she is ordered by an old school PR boss to partake in what only contributes to the PR/journo divide and gives he/she bad PR practice habits for the future, keeping that divide alive.

I am constantly asked at our PitchIt2Me workshops how to manage this issue. I say, show your client or boss the internet.

When a PR client or even an account manager who doesn’t know better needs proof that blanket press releases, follow up phone calls, and asking the junior to pitch to key media doesn’t work, the evidence is all there on the world wide web.

Travel editors Jill Starley Grainger and Laura Archer both regularly express their frustration with irrelevant blanket press releases on twitter.

Boss or client still not convinced?  Frank Barrett, travel editor of the UK’s Mail on Sunday tells it like it is, again on twitter.

Aussie journalists are not backward in coming forward either. Fairfax journalist, Scott Ellis, has been keeping count of useless emails from PRs that he never opens. How many did he receive between April and June this year?  Six thousand.

As for the follow up phone call. Let’s just say Brisbane Times journalist, Bridie Jabour, nails it.

It is not just the press release that gets a beating either. Food, wine and travel journalist Winsor Dobbin expresses his frustration with immediate famil follow up for editorial before the jet lag has even settled.

Pitching also comes under fire, this time from both Frank Barrett and Danielle Cronin, though I suspect both these approaches to the media were done by inexperienced office juniors under instruction from those who pay their salary.

An untargeted pitch can also land you editorial in all the wrong places, as Andrew Hornery reports in PS in the Sydney Morning Herald today.

I am not without compassion, pitching to an editor can be a daunting job. Even journalists find pitching terrifying as Matt Smith writes of his pitching nightmare in ‘How I blew it with The Tele‘ on Mumbrella recently – a candid insight into the mind of some editors, though trust me not all.

If your client or boss is still convinced that blanket irrelevant press releases, follow up phone calls and inexperienced pitches are the way to get editorial coverage then show them the numbers from our PitchIt2Me Media Survey. Two hundred and twenty key senior journalists and editors can’t be wrong.

  • Eighty percent of surveyed media say ‘no’ to the follow up release phone call
  • Over fifty percent of journalists think PRs do not know the difference between a pitch and a press release
  • Sixty six percent of lifestyle journalists are more likely to include a product from a PR they have a good relationship with
  • The average journalist receives twenty five press releases a day (just ask Scott Ellis)
  • Ninety four percent of journos prefer email to phone for PR communication

Need proof? Our PitchIt2Me Media Survey 2012 is on sale for October. A mere AU$99 (usually $395) may save both your client and media relationship. Contact Kirsten Nicholl (kirsten@pitchit2me.com.au)  for more details.

If your client still insists on bad practice after reading the report then it may be time to let them go.

Rachael Oakes-Ash is a leading journalist, blogger, author and PR trainer. 

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