A Flack and a Hack Walk Into a Bar: Part Deux (or The Best and Worst Reporter Interactions with PR Professionals)

Last week, a Facebook post by a journalist friend lamenting the lameness of a PR pitch set me to cataloguing some of the worst and best PR practices as seen from the reporters’ points of view.

This week, I polled other PR professionals including my colleagues in the PRConsultants Group, a nationwide collaborative of independent PR practitioners, of which, The Knight Canney Group is a member. I asked for their thoughts on the best and worst reporter interactions with us. So, listen up reporters. This one’s for you.

The number one answer on the “best” list? “I always, always appreciate when a reporter returns my phone call or answers my email. Even if it’s to say ‘no’.”

The number one answer on the “worst” list? “When a reporter just won’t get back to me. I send emails and follow up with phone calls and there’s just no response.” Writes another, “I never ignore reporters when they reach out to me, but it’s pretty much standard practice now for them to not respond.” And says yet another, “If they’re not interested, it’s not that hard to just hit reply and say, ‘Thanks, but not interested.’” So starved for responses are we PR types that one woman told me, “…respond to my email, even with just a ‘no’ or ‘ack’.”

The complaints about lack of response outnumbered those about getting the facts wrong two-to-one. (I’m sure that says something bad about us…)

I’ve frequently said I am lucky to have left broadcast journalism prior to widespread use of two things: high definition and the Internet.

I receive in excess of 110 emails each weekday. Most of them need answers. Some require a thoughtful response. Some can be dispatched with a simple “yes,” “no,” or “not in this lifetime.”  I’m not without sympathy for reporters who tell me they are drowning in emails. But truly, there is no form of communication easier than email. Just give us a “Got it. Will call you.” Or “Doesn’t work for me.” Or even, “Good luck with that.” Done, I’m out of your hair.

I like reporters. I used to be one. I understand the responsibilities they have and the pressures they’re under—and that there are fewer of them doing more work across multiple platforms. Here’s a suggestion: let us help you. You may not want the story we’re pitching today, but you may be looking for a comment or access for a story you want to do tomorrow. You’re less inclined to help us if you don’t know us and vice versa. How can you get to know us if you don’t talk to us or even acknowledge a call or an email?

You may even find one or two of us you like! (As I said last week, it wouldn’t be the worst thing if a flack and a hack walked into a bar.)

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