I have been slacking on my posts! I have now been working in the Public Relations department of an Advertising Agency for almost a year and a half. Here is what I have learned about Public Relations since graduating college.
In college I learned that public relations is a planned process to influence public opinion, through sound character and proper performance, based on mutually satisfactory two-way communication. I can thank my PR professor for drilling that into my head.
PR is a Planned Process:
The first thing that I have learned since being in the work force is that if the process is not planned it’s not going to be effective. Here is an example. I was in charge of doing community outreach for a small event for one of clients. I had several clients at the time and this event wasn’t a huge priority. Since it wasn’t on the top of my mind I didn’t start reaching out to media until it was too late. PR professionals can’t expect to send information late and then expect the journalist to publish information about the event on short notice. Journalists have deadlines too.
I work with magazines and their editorial deadlines are months before the issues print. I contacted a magazine editor in December about content for their April issue. I was able to secure an interview and coverage. This would not have happened if I reached out in March. The editor would have already written the story and had the necessary sources.
Two-Way Communication: Journalists like Emails, Don’t you?
Sometimes it can be hard to process large amounts of information during a phone call. When pitching reporters ALWAYS send an email before calling. If you call and ask them to write about your new product or amazing event, the first thing they are going to say is, “Please send me an email with all the details.”
I have tried this and it doesn’t work. Send an email and if you don’t hear back follow up with a polite conversation phone call. There are two reasons why the reporter probably didn’t call you back. One, they saw the email and didn’t think the idea was newsworthy or relevant and deleted it. Two, it got buried because they receive hundreds of emails a day. There have been times when I followed up it worked out great. There have been other times when I could tell they were audibly annoyed I was following up. It’s part of the game.
Journalists and PR: Love, Hate Relationship
Since I have started working in PR I have had the chance to speak with many reporters and editors. The feelings toward PR are obviously mixed. There are reporters that absolutely hare PR and don’t like receiving pitches. There are reporters that don’t hate PR, but they like it when it works to their benefit. Then there are the reporters how have no idea what PR professionals do.
I am sure there are many different other feelings toward PR that can be placed in between, however this is what I have experienced. I would be happy to know your thoughts below in the comments.
I was an editor before and I have received tons of terrible pitches so I totally understand each of the feelings I have described above. The best way to help cultivate relationships with reporters is to send good thought-out, newsworthy pitches. They may not be able to cover it every time, but that’s where the relationship starts. This leads me to my last point, research.
Research Before Sending Pitches
This sounds obvious, but it is very important. I learned this lesson the hard way. About a month into my job I sent a pitch to a Huffington post contributing writer. I skimmed (did not fully read) some of her articles and I felt I had a good grasp of her stance on a subject. I sent her a pitch and she ripped me apart. I didn’t’ read enough because the stance I thought she had was the exact opposite. She ended up writing a nasty post about me on her blog and said that I didn’t look old enough to be working in PR. This hurt. I apologized and she responded with “ignorance is no excuse.”
Keep this in mind while pitching. Make sure you ask all the necessary questions before pressing send on that pitch. Asking one more good questions could save you a lot of time, and embarrassment. The reporter even took my LinkedIn profile picture and put it in the blog post! Don’t let this happen to you.
Hopefully you have been able to learn a little bit from my experiences. If you have had different experience with PR I would love to hear them.