David Strom’s December story at RWW about the “10 Biggest PR Blunders of 2011” mentions things that happen every year for as long as I’ve been in this game.
The story isn’t so much about blunders as pressure to please the client being passed onto journos, but boy, did it rark up a PR person in the comments section.
10 Nightmarish behaviours PR People Hate About Journalists
We Stopped at 10, but We Could Go On (And On)
1. You lack common courtesy: You agree to attend our event. You even RSVP and confirm by phone, but at the last minute you call to cancel citing some bullshit personal reason. Normally we wouldn’t get too worked up about it, but in this instance we invited you to an event with very limited availability and you screwed another more deserving journalist out of attending.
2. Your laziness knows no bounds: Despite the fact that we spoon feed you story ideas and basically do your job for you, you still get the facts wrong. You ask us to fact check your work, which we do, but we still have to call and correct your sloppy reporting. Like the time you quoted the wrong spokesperson in your story.
3. You work at a crappy trade rag (blog): You had big dreams when you got out of j-school. You were going to do something really big. But this is how it turned out. So please wake-up sunshine, you’re not working for the New York Times or The Economist. Your job is to cover our clients’ news. So respond to our e-mails, pick-up your phone, and return our phone calls.
4. You don’t play by the rules: You insist on playing the big shot. You think you can ignore the standards of journalism that have served your trade well for centuries. You can’t. It makes you look like a buffoon. Respect your word. This includes honouring embargoes and keeping things we tell you on background out of your story. You don’t get a pass.
5. You’re a stenographer: You call yourself a journalist, but what you really are is a tired hack who re-writes the press materials we send you and pass it off as your own work. It’s fine. We love seeing our writing in your publication, but don’t get pissy when we want you to fix something you got wrong. No, we’re not going to fuel your SEO campaign by posting comments to your blog or your publication’s web site.
6. You’re creepy: We invite you out to drinks after work, not because we really want to spend time with you, but because we know you like the sauce. Our younger female staffers, the ones you’re ogling and pawing at our media mixer, don’t really want to spend time with you either. They’re just here in hopes that you’ll return their phone calls and e-mails and not because they find you attractive and want to sleep you—eeeeww! Don’t be that guy who IM’s them the next day. That really creeps them out. Stop it.
7. You’re just projecting self-loathing: Due largely to Item #3 above, you spend the last few days of each year spewing out a top-10 list of things you hate about PR people. We get it. You get to blow off a little steam and this will certainly will be your most read and discussed piece for the entire year, but give it a rest already. Your lists are tired and lame. Besides you’re just mad at the PR profession because our interns make more money than you do.
8. You look a gift horse in the mouth: We give you a ton of free stuff and you gleefully accept it, so please spare us the dismissive and snarky, “weight-of-the-world” moral dilemma commentary. Please treat our largess with the respect it deserves. Don’t forget the limo rides, the parties we throw and the “review” units now piling up in your apartment. Please remember that if it weren’t for PR people you’d be rocking the buffet at Circus Circus during CES rather than schnorring delectable hors d’oeuvres and swilling our top shelf booze poolside at the Wynn.
9. You’re a humorless bully: Like the fear-mongering senior in the high school cafeteria, you delight in intimidating the newbies. No, not every person who calls you will have every single detail that you need to write your story, which is really our story (see Item #5). Maybe instead of browbeating our staff you could spend some time researching the beat that you’re supposed to be covering. We’re sick of having to “educate” you on the category every time we need you to write a story.
10. You don’t know your station: Reporting on the deeds and thoughts of others is merely the flip side of promoting them. And both are a necessary if tawdry bit of commercial service. You look down upon us, but in reality you stand beside us in this scullery of ideas, mucking and mopping shoulder to shoulder. Speaking of which, we have a product launch coming up and we need you to do your job and write about it. We’ll be in touch with the details. And try not to act like a histrionic princess when we call.
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