Our top ten PR peeves

JOANNA NORRIS
DOMPOST.CO.NZ EDITOR
Last updated 12:18 09/07/2012

Here at the coalface of the mainstream media, we have a love-hate relationship with our cousins in the public relations industry.

We are hugely supportive of communications professionals who facilitate the flow of information and improve organisational transparency and access. We also happily acknowledge that we have worked as a training ground for many a PR professional, who has later crossed the divide.

But while we are opening the doors of our newsroom, we felt it was time to put on the record a few of the PR tricks that get us grinding our teeth. This is naturally all in the spirit of constructive criticism, but, hey, that's our spin.

Here are our Top 10 PR peeves.

1. We hate it when PRs call us to ask if we've received an email they sent a few minutes ago. Yes, we got it. The reason we haven't replied in the past three minutes is that it's not urgent, not relevant, we're on deadline. . .  your phone call is not helping. Please hold your calls for the urgent issues.

2. Don't send us a press release with follow-up contacts for someone who is not there, not interested, or holidaying in remotest Turkmenistan.

3. If your press release is worth sending, please send it in the body of an email. Don't bog up our in-boxes with chunky attachments.

4.
We get cross when you invite us to press conferences or events, but refuse to give us enough information to judge newsworthiness. These kinds of stunts only work once. Next time, we will be less willing to get there.

5. Speaking of stunts, do not sacrifice the planet for your press release. Don't send us a massive box filled with Styrofoam with a gimmicky release buried in the middle. It annoys us, and our cleaners.

6. It is frustrating when an expert in your organisation comments on the record, and we receive a follow up call from a spokesperson withdrawing the comments. This is not in the public interest and reasons for withdrawal must be compelling.

7. Don't get cross when we call, or call back with further questions. We are just doing our jobs.

8. Press releases that address us by name, when they are not really for us, are a little annoying. We know you just scraped us off a database, it does not count as a personal touch.

9. When you don't understand our deadlines. We now work in a 24-hour on demand news environment. This means you need to too.

10. Oh, and don't dance on our graves. This gleeful opinion piece by a PR professional in the days after news that Fairfax and News Ltd would be reducing staffing, was at best, ill-timed, at worst, horrendously insensitive.

PRs, let us know about your pet journo peeves. Leave a comment below.

- The Dominion Post

22 comments
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Toby   #1   01:14 pm Jul 09 2012

It might be because I'm a jounalist student, but I found this article somewhat funny. I don't know why I'm going into journalism if I have to deal with PR people.

Sery de Campos   #2   01:36 pm Jul 09 2012

My perve is journalists who copy and paste from a press release and use it for their entire story. That is not journalism.

Jono   #3   02:37 pm Jul 09 2012

@Toby #1 - it is the nature of the beast.

Covering bridal shows, working public holidays, being called the scum of the earth when you cover court and "dealing" with PR people are just one of those things you learn to, well, deal with.

smokey97   #4   02:55 pm Jul 09 2012

A Sery de Campos #2 did you really mean "perve" on "peeve". It made me giggle.

mike smith   #5   03:31 pm Jul 09 2012

Sery de Campos beat me to it. :)

Bob   #6   03:34 pm Jul 09 2012

Number 7 is funny - I think every PR person could argue they are also just doing their jobs as well. Having worked on both sides of the divide, it's clear journos rely on PR agencies just as much as PR agencies rely on journos. So my advice to journos is, suck it up.

Will   #7   03:38 pm Jul 09 2012

I think most PR pros are too busy kissing their clients' ar*e to begin kissing the journalists' too.

I would say most chefs despise waiters and most waiters hold nothing short of contempt for their customers. It just goes with the territory.

In the absence of anything bordering on any real humour, this feature is merely boring sanctimonious whinging.

Get over it!

And no, I don't work in PR.

Victoria   #8   04:57 pm Jul 09 2012

PR departments are spin doctors, they tell half-truths or bare faced lies for a living.

If you, as a journalist get a fancy press release from a PR firm, you should be asking- what are they trying to hide? That is where you get off your chair and do some journalism and find out.

Regurgitating press releases is not journalism- that's why people don't like it.

Allister   #9   05:03 pm Jul 09 2012

When do we readers get to publish our top ten journalism peeves in this fine paper?

In no particular order:

* Broad generalisations (often in IT but just about any technical subject) * Statistics that are useless ("5% of males have blah, whereas only 5,000 females do") * Shuffling the paragraphs in a press release and calling it a story. FYI, I get the Police emails too. * Impossible headlines that you have to read the story to understand * Horribly contrived headlines done for the sake of a pun * Inappropriate headlines (puns on arson, for instance - it's not a laughing matter) * Assuming a popular view is by definition correct * Failing to consult with experts

People who live in glass houses...

Jbro   #10   09:24 pm Jul 09 2012

My peeve is those that work in PR referring to themselves as PRs. They themselves are not public relations, they work in public relations.


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