Journalists. Public relations professionals. Frenemies of the highest order.
No doubt you've seen journalists and bloggers complain about bad PR pitches. You may have even seen them here (like this lazy pitch from Upwork).
Despite the tendency of writers to call out PR folks, the truth is many of us need them. We need their clients and employers as sources for stories. We need access to events. We need review materials. And we all know PR folks need writers (hence all those pitches clogging our inboxes).
Given that I've worked on both sides of the fence (and still do), I was asked to contribute a piece to Muck Rack exploring pet peeves not only from the perspective of journalists and bloggers, but also from those much-maligned PR pros.
So I did, with a bit of help.
Rather than share my own stories, I reached out to my network to hear yours. I ended up going with seven hand-picked professionals and one new connection made through a trusted PR colleague. And they had plenty of interesting stories to share.
Check out the post to see if their stories represent your own experiences. You can also feel free to share the image below on your blog or social media accounts (but please link it back to Muck Rack).
A big thank you to Jason Falls, Kristi Hines, Paula Hendrickson, Jeremy Pepper, Philippa Willitts, Ike Pigott, Helen Reynolds, and Lori Widmer for weighing in.
2 thoughts on “Journalists & PR Pros Go Head-to-Head”
I like that you came at the topic from both sides. As much as we writers are frustrated by bad PR pitches, PR pros who know what they’re doing are frustrated by writers who don’t understand the basics of building a good working relationship.
If I were Jeremy Pepper, I might be inclined to send future embargoed items to those outlets on the day they’re no longer embargoed. It’s awful that some news outlets today have no clue what that means.
They claimed it was a time zone issue, so I’m guessing they released it just a few hours early. But still, with publicly traded companies you have to be careful about when certain announcements can come out. I’d imagine waiting until the last second would be tough given the size of these outlets too. They’re two of the biggest (I suggested pulling the names because we didn’t want the post to turn into a war of people calling individuals out).
Part of the frustration we have on the PR side is that many of the bad pitches writers see aren’t coming from actual PR professionals. Internet marketers increasingly pretend to play that role at an alarming rate. They don’t care about legitimate coverage. It’s all about links and “influencer marketing” (using well-known people and outlets for entirely selfish reasons; not actually doing something newsworthy, contributing anything of value, etc.). So they spam. They send untargeted pitches. Things are all done on a massive scale with templates; no personalization. The same happens when companies don’t have legitimate PR people working for them. They let marketers do the work (too many don’t understand the difference — and that difference is huge). So it becomes all about poorly targeted freebies, mis-management of expectations (especially of bloggers), and, as you pointed out, a misunderstanding of the importance of relationships.
That’s not to say real PR people don’t f*ck up. They do. Just not nearly as often, or as badly, as they’re accused of.