Six Indicators That a Journalist Just Doesn’t Like You

Posted on January 13, 2012 
Filed Under General

Is it important for the media to like their PR contacts? I’m not talking about getting invited to their wedding or ski house in Vermont (though that is one indicator). I’m talking about genuine “like” – as in, I can trust that person and I don’t mind having dinner with her.  So I submit that Yes, it is important for a journalist to like you.  We (as sober humans) gravitate to kindness, humor, intelligence, trustworthiness. While a journalist may have no choice but to “deal with you,” it certainly makes for more pleasant and effective media relations when the journalist feels you’re the real deal. That you’re not just calling on him in times of (desperate) need. How do you know if a journalist doesn’t like you? Here are six key indicators:

1.  The reporter returns your call – but after you’ve gone home, to ask you to take him off your media list.

2. You email the reporter a story idea and she emails you back: um, who are you?

3. The reporter refuses to have you present during an interview with your senior executive .

4.  She tweets a negative comment about you – not your company.

5. The reporter calls you a flack.

6. You invite the reporter to your Vermont ski house, all expenses paid for him and his wife, to be used at anytime, and he declines, every time you ask.

Think about your relationship with your media contacts and ask yourself, am I someone they wouldn’t mind being in the same room with? Not all journalists are welcoming and/or forgiving, but if you’re sensing of trend of being dismissed, then it’s time to make time for relationship-building.

Diane Schwartz

On Twitter: @dianeschwartz

 

 

Comments

  • http://michiganradio.org Tracy Samilton

    Diane: all good points, except the “turning down invitations to Vermont ski house, all expenses paid!” Ha. That would be considered a very big no-no, as in “conflict of interest” in many newsrooms…including mine (Michigan Radio.)

    But you’re right, being nice and warm and courteous is ALWAYS appreciated – even if we don’t pick up a story that’s being pitched, we remember that!

  • KJ

    Reporters own ski homes in Vermont?

  • CJ

    This is satire, right?

  • CF

    Sounds like you had a bad experience with one reporter.

    How many times has this sort of thing happened? And how is this even relevant? Most reporters don’t make hardly enough money to support a family, let alone have a ski house.

    Why should you be allowed present when they’re interviewing a senior executive? You’re not being interviewed. It’s not personal.

    This post is such a joke. I can’t even.

  • http://www.wbhm.org Tanya Ott

    I’m a 23 year public radio vet and totally agree with Tracy (hi Tracy!) … #6 or anything even remotely approaching it would be a violation of most newsrooms’ ethics policies and grounds for firing. We don’t even accept food at a public event unless there’re no other options available and it would unreasonable to wait to eat (i.e. you’re on a day long assignment on an aircraft carrier)

    I’ve also tried to at least talk a PR person out of being present during an interview. Doesn’t work (not that I expect it to!), but honestly, having a PR person or other exec present can sometimes hinder the interview. I remember one time when we were doing a series on school funding & No Child Left Behind. The school district’s superintendent insisted on sitting in on every interview. It definitely had a chilling effect on the interviewees. Also made me wonder why the Superintendent had time to sit in on 5 half-hour interviews. ;-)

  • Kevin Meerschaert

    I agree with all I’ve read above particularly Tracy and Tonya. (Howdy you two fellow pub radio buddies)

    I’m not here to report wonderful things about your client. I’m here to report the news. You need understand whatI decide is news is based on what I believe what my audience wants to, or needs to know about.

  • George Stephen

    The problem may actually be the journalist. Sometimes people have attitude, or favourites, and journalists have these attributes, just like the rest of us.

  • H.K. Anders

    The writer betrays a fundamental lack of understanding of both journalistic and PR ethics.

    I don’t know any reporter who would accept an invitation to a ski house, or any such freebie. What’s more, I don’t know an ethical PR practitioner who would make such an offer. It’s sleazy on its face. A reporter who rejects it doesn’t do so necessarily because he dislikes you. He just respects himself and takes his profession seriously.

  • julie

    The journalist probably doesn’t like you because you keep trying to bribe him or her with vacations to your ski house.

    And quit bragging about your damn ski house.

  • http://www.stevemease.com Steve Mease
  • http://www.stevemease.com Steve Mease

    http://vtdigger.org/2012/01/13/margolis-when-any-pr-is-bad-pr/
    Perhaps to your point about “Flacks.”

  • http://www.kellner.us Mark A. Kellner

    The “no p.r. person in the room” bit can be annoying, but also useful. Shortly after the ark landed on Mt. Ararat, I lucked into a p.r. job for Dependable Lists, one of the top mailing list brokers of the day. But, not an overly “sexy” topic for the media. Except for the late Phil Dougherty, legendary advertising columnist of The New York Times.

    Mr. Dougherty warmed to the idea and I booked an interview for him with Jack Oldstein, Dependable’s founder and president. On arrival, I was dismissed from the room by Mr. Dougherty, who said he didn’t work that way. OK, I said, and retreated.

    The column that ran was incredibly flattering to Mr. Oldstein, so much so that it was a central comment of the (paid) obit which ran in the NYT some 34 years later. And, no, I don’t really regret not being absent from the room.

  • http://www.healthjournalism.org Pia Christensen

    Perhaps part of the problem is PR folks who don’t seem to understand that #6 is a huge ethical problem. I have had to explain this to more than one public relations person, so there appears to be a lack of awareness that extends beyond this post.

    May I suggest to PR professionals that, if your job is to work with journalists, that you understand the ethical guidelines in which they operate?

    For more information:
    http://www.healthjournalism.org/secondarypage-details.php?id=56#integrity

    http://spj.org/ethicscode.asp

    http://www.prsa.org/AboutPRSA/Ethics/ProfessionalStandardsAdvisories/PSA-09.pdf

  • InsideOut

    PR – The ‘Dos’ and ‘Don’ts’

    Do

    - Plan: PR is all about planning, especially if a crisis arises. Make sure that there is always a plan ready to action ahead of time so you avoid those sticky situations.
    - Be creative: the sky is the limit! It’s best to think of a variety of creative ideas when pitching. Nothing’s worse than a boring brand persona with no imagination – original concepts receive more media coverage!
    - Listen: your client may necessarily like everything you come up with, remember you are working for them and they are always right.

    The ‘don’ts’
    - PR is not about spinning the truth, so don’t even try! You will always get caught no matter how much you twist it.
    - Don’t rush your work: make sure you are organized as rushed work will always be picked to pieces by the media and will reflect your client in a negative way. You don’t want to end up on Media Watch!
    - Don’t flood the media: A big mistake some PR practitioners make is flooding the media channels. Avoid doing this unless you have a huge event/sale, remember it’s about the quality of the story/pitch, not quantity.

    -InsideOut PR

  • Dom

    Journalist here! The thing with PR people is that they’re so awfully intent on making everything seem so very nice. Nothing in this whole world is as good as you say your product is. And no, we won’t print your near-orgasmic but “totally objective” review of your own product the way you sent it. So why try? If you’re a cub PR-person, then I would understand one or two of those releases that practically equate your product to God’s own heaven, but if you’ve been in the business a couple of years, you should know how the media works.

    Also, no, we will never take your invitation to your ski house in Vermont, no matter how much we’d like to see Vermont… or a ski house. Why? Because at the end of the day, we’re the Press and you’re PR. We can’t be friends, based on our professions alone. We can like each other (I have a number of PR-people I like, but they’re only a small faction of the PR-people I deal with), sure, but friends? Never. We have fundamentally different goals. You’re here to praise a product, we’re here to tell our readers, viewers or listeners the truth. Also, people believe us and trust us to tell the truth and not be a shill of some product. We’re proud of that trust, because we’ve earned it.

    And why on Earth can’t a Press Release never be sent out in a way that would actually allow for it to be printed “as is”? Seriously, no paper in the world will print a seven page appraisal of anything. We simply don’t have the space. So keep it short. Keep it minimalistic. Under 1000 characters, preferrably. If what we read is interesting, we will get back to you to ask more questions. Then we’ll both have fun doing it, because you get to be the star of a show (and have your name in the paper, no less) and we get a good, journalistic article.

  • http://www.insideoutor.com.au InsideOut

    PR – The ‘Dos’ and ‘Don’ts’

    Do
    - Plan: PR is all about planning, especially if a crisis arises. Make sure that there is always a plan ready to action ahead of time so you avoid those sticky situations.
    - Be creative: the sky is the limit! It’s best to think of a variety of creative ideas when pitching. Nothing’s worse than a boring brand persona with no imagination – original concepts receive more media coverage!
    - Listen: your client may necessarily like everything you come up with, remember you are working for them and they are always right.

    The ‘don’ts’

    - PR is not about spinning the truth, so don’t even try! You will always get caught no matter how much you twist it.
    - Don’t rush your work: make sure you are organized as rushed work will always be picked to pieces by the media and will reflect your client in a negative way. You don’t want to end up on Media Watch!
    - Don’t flood the media: A big mistake some PR practitioners make is flooding the media channels. Avoid doing this unless you have a huge event/sale, remember it’s about the quality of the story/pitch, not quantity.

    -InsideOut PR
    http://www.insideoutpr.com.au

Copyright © 2014 Access Intelligence, LLC. All rights reserved • All Rights Reserved.