Our top ten PR peeves

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