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Posted on May 14, 2008
PR Week has an article this week about a second editor who has posted a black list of PR professionals who have sent her unwelcome pitches. Gina Trapani, editor of Lifehacker, followed in the footsteps of Wired magazine editor, Chris Anderson, posting the e-mail addresses of PR people who have not met their expectations for pitching stories.
I understand reporters’ frustration. Public relations professionals have a responsibility to research a publication, formulate a pitch that is relevant to an outlet’s readers or viewers and send the pitch to the right person. However, this mass posting of PR professionals’ e-mail addresses demonstrates a severe lack of understanding of our own professional responsibilities, time constraints and the demands placed upon us.
In the rapidly changing media world, keeping up with exactly who covers what at even one, let alone the many hundreds of news outlets we must pitch, is all but impossible. Reporters move to new publications, take different positions and sometimes just leave the industry altogether. Even when you feel confident a topic falls squarely within a reporter’s coverage area, a pitch may not resonate.
PR professionals, at least good ones, make every effort to work with reporters in the way that suits each of them best. These whiny postings of blacklisted PR people serve only to degrade a relationship between reporters and PR professionals that should be mutually beneficial. And they demonstrate a severe lack of understanding of the benefits we can provide to them.
PR professionals actually serve many important purposes for reporters. We ensure that information coming out of a company is accurate. Without accurate information, a reporter’s story, and potentially their credibility, is jeopardized. Furthermore, we educate our clients about the needs and constraints of reporters. We tell clients when a story is irrelevant and steer them on a course to providing real, pertinent news.
Without PR professionals, reporters would be lucky to receive any significant story ideas in their inboxes. Believe me. I have heard what many CEOs consider to be a good story. Alternately, reporters’ access to the business leaders who provide the color and details that make a story shine would diminish. Skepticism of reporters among top-level corporate players is remarkably high and PR professionals help bridge that gap.
We are the link between reporters and the people and organizations they cover. Few companies would manage to get the needed information in reporters’ hands without us. And however irrelevant reporters may find many of our pitches, few of them would manage to do their jobs well without us.