How PR pros can cooperate with journalists

Journalism, PR, PR Tips
July 5, 2019
by Mary Mtabali

The relationship between PR professionals and journalists is known for being adversarial. Journalists view PR pros as obstacles who either get in the way of stories or try to create stories from nothing. On the other hand, PR pros get frustrated when journalists ignore their work. 

As we commemorate International Cooperative Day tomorrow, we explore ways in which both parties can adapt their roles in order to be supportive of each other and thus build better relationships in their quest to inform the public.  

The big question though is, how can these two parties cooperate and work together?

A few thoughts for PR pros…

This is where cultivating the spirit of cooperation and genuineness helps both PR pros and journalists. How can PR practitioners display that, as well as get their client’s story before the eyes of the public?

Don’t force the issue

It won’t serve you well to try to force a journalist to be interested in your story. Following up with repeated voicemails and emails will serve only to annoy, as most journalists are extremely short on time. No journalist will cooperate with you if you’re too forceful.

Don’t wait until the last minute

Journalists have enough deadlines. Don’t burden them with ultimatums like ‘This needs to be released by Friday’ (and it’s Thursday afternoon). Rather, give them plenty of advance notice. Being cooperative includes being courteous to others’ time.

Respond in a timely manner

If a journalist picks up your release, make sure your client or source is available for further information. Nothing is more frustrating than waiting on someone just so you can wrap up a few loose ends.

Don’t be condescending 

Subject lines like ‘You can’t pass this up’ or ‘I thought this would get you a byline’ will quickly get deleted and only make the journalist not cooperate with you in future. Get straight to the point in the subject line of the email. It will either stimulate interest or not, but don’t be patronising.

A few pleas for journalists…

The value of PR professionals is not lost entirely for journalists. However, it may feel that way to some if a few basic courtesies are not followed;

Try to reply

Yes, journalists may receive emails in the triple digits every day. It just may not be possible to reply to every one. However, doing your best to give PR pros some closure will be greatly appreciated. And, who knows if down the road they might send you something you find truly valuable?

Give a hand

If a release lands in your lap that might not be your cup of tea, but is newsworthy, feel free to forward it to a colleague. It’s even better if you can let the sender know you have done so. 

Be the nice guy

Remember that PR professionals are not out to irritate you or to spam you. They are real people trying to do their job. Be kind and professional when communicating verbally or through email.

The relationship between journalists and PR pros cannot only still exist, but it can thrive within cooperative boundaries. 

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