I (Kim Bode) had a Twitter scuffle a few years ago, it was between myself and a well-known statewide reporter. No blood was shed, some points were made and I like to think we both walked away with more perspective on each other’s jobs.
If you’re in the public relations field, you’ve faced the wrath of reporters before. Sometimes it’s warranted, but most times it’s just unnecessary and mean.
The tiff I had on Twitter was the result of the reporter’s tweet bitching about PR professionals and how they don’t do the necessary research before reaching out and pitching a story. That is the absolute truth in some cases, but what he didn’t take into account is how many reporters cover more than one subject area. This reporter was the health care reporter but also covered economic development, sometimes manufacturing, and sometimes local happenings. See the confusion?
The below tweet is from a recent PR Daily article. The sad fact is a lot of us PR professionals have received similar emails and we just take it and move on. Reporters often take to Twitter, LinkedIn, or other public forums to air their grievances.
PR folks, on the other hand, remain silent. We cry into our pillows, blame ourselves for the vitriol and get back to our jobs. I, for one, am quite fucking over it. Imagine taking to social media to bash your boss – it’s just a bad move. For those getting their underwear in a twist, I’m not insinuating journalists work for PR professionals.
If we want journalists to respect us, we need to live up to our code of ethics and put in the work before we reach out to them.
- Rule #1: Don’t waste their time.
- Rule #2: Do the damn research.
- Rule #3: Set clear expectations and boundaries.
I’ve been in this industry for close to 20 years, and I’ve made my share of mistakes – some real doozies. The work we do is rarely easy, it often calls for us to be on 24/7 and have extremely thick skin. We have to keep our clients and reporters happy, it’s why PR is one of the more stressful industries to work in.
It always cracks me up when you see journalists leave their profession to become PR practitioners. I mean, anyone can do it. I look forward to the day they get roasted by a former “colleague” for sending a mass email with all area reporters’ emails in the “to” line. I’ve seen it more than once, hell I’ve been on the list of “media.”
I’ve also interacted with reporters who demanded exclusivity to a story, knowing that just wasn’t possible. They’d rather forgo covering an important story, than reporting on something because another publication might. To that we say, do your job. Find a different angle, and interview other sources – it’s your job to find the right story for your audience. We’re here to get you whatever you need to make that happen, oftentimes we’ll write the majority of the story for you. We’re helpful like that.
Agency owner, Alysha Light of Flight PR, says it best, “PR people often scramble to pick up journalists’ slack. When a journalist shows up to an interview late or unprepared, we’re the ones picking up the pieces, pushing back or rescheduling interviews, and resending information at their whim — all while dealing with angry clients who are unhappy with the way a reporter behaved as if it’s a reflection on us.”
We deserve to be treated with respect, regardless of how “annoying” we are perceived.
Rally the Team
PR Daily says it best, “the future of the industry relies on mutual respect.” There are bad reporters and there are bad PR pros. However, our jobs depend on each other.
Instead of taking to social to air your grievances, take the time to educate or provide feedback. It’s pretty easy to not be an asshole and treat the other party with basic common courtesy.