What Grinds Our Gears - How media and PR professionals can work better together


At last week's media and industry event, “What Grinds My Gears: Perspectives from the frontline of Journalism and PR”, Martyn Rosney MPRII, took part in a panel discussion with Colette Sexton of the Sunday Business Post and Mark Paul of the Irish Times and moderated by former journalist Joanne Ahern of DHR Communicationsons on how PR and media professionals can work better together.

Here Martyn recaps some of the points discussed and gives his own thoughts on how media and PR professionals can work better together.

This is an abridged version of Martyn's recent LinkedIn Pulse article - you can read the full article here. Joanne Ahern also has tips on PR from a journalist's perspective here and Mark Paul wrote about the 'spirited depate' in last Friday's Irish Times read that here under Footnotes.........

Make better connections

Whether you’re working in-house or in agency you should be making it your business to get to know the journalists that will cover your stories. When I say “get to know” I do not mean just trying to set up coffee or lunch with them to pitch them ALL your clients/company news, what I mean in the first instance is getting to know what they cover, what they’re interested in, what they’re not interested in. As an industry, we’re not allowing ourselves enough time to properly peruse the outlets and journalists we’re pitching our stories to. As a result, we’re clogging up inboxes and we have only ourselves to blame if our quality stories are rightly overlooked because of the spam we’ve sent previously. If we know the journalists better and provide them with a consistent stream of content that works for them, their editors and their readers then we’ll all benefit. 

Understand each other’s roles better

There are some journalists that assume that the only job of a PR professional is to write the press release, send the press release and then be available for the day to respond to media queries arising from said press release. Similarly, there’s PR professionals who assume the journalist sits at the desk all day, has a few stories to write and should be fine to take a call to see if they got that press release they sent earlier. The reality is different.
Taking the time to understand each other’s roles better will lead to much more mutually beneficial relationships. At its most simple level, knowing when is the optimal time to send your announcement allows the journalist time to give your story the write up it deserves.
Furthermore, as communications professionals armed with the understanding of our role and the media we work with. we need to stand up to clients and internal audiences and tell them what’s news and what’s not.

Understand each other’s pressures better

The majority of journalists need to get their stories out fast and seamlessly. The last thing they need is silly mistakes like spelling, incorrect figures or grammar issues in the collateral provided to them from the PR person. It’s their name on that byline and if they’re using material from a PR person that’s incorrect or wrong it’s their reputation that gets the heat in the newsroom and/or from online commenters.

Similarly, PR people are juggling numerous projects, clients and issues. There’s some journalists that think a delay in response to a query to a PR person is an intentional act of subterfuge. The reality is oftentimes far more mundane. You’ll have a PR person, dealing with a client/internal boss, dealing with an internal stakeholder to provide expertise or comment approval. If any one member of this chain is otherwise engaged there’s going to be a delay in responding. Screaming at the PR person is not going to fast track the response time.  

Make each other’s jobs easier

Anticipate the requirements of the other party before engaging. Clarity is key. From a PR person’s perspective, anticipating the questions that media may ask and ensuring your spokesperson is well briefed is key. Doing the basics right and ensuring you have everything you need whether it’s high res imagery or data the journalist needs before pitching.

From media’s perspective, sharing as much detail as possible that will help get the interview/request over the line and will also save you from a lot of back and forth with the PR representative who is fielding questions from internal audiences. This can be as simple as sharing expected publication date, what you need, what times work for the interview and the areas you’d like to explore.

For both parties, being upfront and honest is the key to a long and fruitful relationship.

Martyn is an account director in the corporate team of Edelman Ireland. He blogs on all things PR here and you can follow him on Twitter at @rosney.

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