Sunday, 7 February 2010

It SHOULD be a relationship

I arrived home to visit my mum this weekend - made myself some crumpets and settled down to read my issue of PR Week - needless to say I developed a bee in my bonnet....

There is an on-going debate between journalists and PR professionals for those who didn't know - they don't like receiving our press releases if they aren't relevant and we carry on sending them - that's is the basis of the argument. A campaign has been launched by the Realwire chief executive Adam Parker named 'An Inconvenient PR Truth' and one their main policies is a PR 'bill of rights' which includes points such as after a PR practitioner has sent a press release they aren't allowed to 'chase' the recipient by phoning them. I agree with some of the points in this 'bill of rights' and think there are some good ideas however the name...inconvenient pr truth...I think they could have done it in a less 'spin' sounding way. However it has brought with it a lot of publicity which might have been one of their aims.

Both journalists and PR practitioners are busy - and we both have jobs to do. Why all the disagreement? As a university student I don't want to enter the world of work with such troubles - I live across the corridor from a journalism student and are the best of friends - because of living with each other we understand how we could use each other in the workplace effectively rather than seeing each other as a problem.

I understand completely that there are some agencies out there who are just concerned with sending out millions of press releases to people who wont find them relevant - but it is not all agencies. Angie Moxham the CEO of 3 Monkeys makes a good point in PR Week - 'It is all based on individual relationships with journalists' - we are taught about media relations in University so how is it that some people in the industry seem to have forgotten their importance?! Relationships are important both inside and outside the workplace - you wouldn't start telling your grandparents about your sex life (well I wouldn't...) so why tell a cycling publication who promote saving the environment about a new 8litre super car that's being produced?

I agree that sending irrelevant press releases to journalists is unprofessional and down right irritating for them - I was explaining this to my mum over the weekend - 1.7bn irrelevant press release emails are sent each year in the UK according to inconvenientprtruth.com - that is A LOT. As a PR student I am constantly being reminded on making sure that you send a press release which has been tailored for the journalist - regional paper? Give it a local swing. Make it relevant for them.

So before you click send on that email:

Just have a think.

Do the research.

Tailor it to them.

And journalists cut us a bit of slack :-) I am sure you find them interesting sometimes?!

Would be interested to hear others thoughts on this so feel free to comment.

4 comments:

  1. Hi Carly

    Great post. Your three point approach is most of the items in the bill of rights just more succinctly put - I like it a lot! I might add something in about format and attachments though too.

    FYI despite how it has been reported by many the "rights" were stated to be for "discussion" and were based on "demands" voiced by journalists *and* bloggers (you will find each "right" except one links to a 3rd party article). The *and* bloggers being a key point that no one has really discussed in the debate to date. I would be interested in your thoughts on which of these "rights" shouldn't apply if a PR were to outreach to someone who blogged in a personal capacity? Like yourself for instance :-)

    With regards to the title of the campaign you will find an explanation of the rationale here http://inconvenientprtruth.com/animation/frequently-asked-questions/ .I also wonder if we would have managed to start such a dynamic debate and one that has resulted in the CIPR deciding to try and tackle the related issues http://www.cipr.co.uk/News/releases/2010/February/inconvenient_truth_response.html if the campaign had been less provocative.

    Of course as you say it isn't all PRs who cause this irrelevance. But the problem is that like all forms of pollution if enough people create it, then it damages the environment for everyone. How do you ensure a recipient pays attention to your relevant story in their inbox if it is surrounded by tens of irrelevant ones.....? Probably by having to spend even more time making sure they know who you are....is that efficient?

    Thanks very much for taking the time to talk about the campaign and I wish you the best of luck with the rest of your studies.

    Best
    Adam

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  2. Hi Adam,

    Thank you ever so much for your response - you are obviously scanning your media presence thoroughly :-)

    The point made about bloggers is extremely relevant as you say - especially with the rapid growth of social media. They are opinion formers nowadays.

    I have looked at the rationale for the name. In PR being slightly controversial gets you noticed so I can fully understand why you would have named the campaign something like this. It has stimulated an open and loud debate about something which has only been whispered about.

    I think it is brilliant that someone is spearheading the debate and drawing up an initial set of guidelines. The main point I was making was that it was a relationship between journalists and PR practitioners and that I thought some people were forgetting that.

    Once again thank you very much for the comment - I shall be keeping my eyes and ears open :-)

    Kind Regards,

    Carly

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  3. it is a really interesting post. nicely done carly

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