With the news that JK Rowling‘s 800 word short story was sold at a charity auction for £25k and that London Mayor Boris Johnson will pocket £250k a year for a weekly column in the Telegraph, I do believe it’s time I should have a chat with my editor at Isle of Man newspapers. It seems a salary review is in order!
I know we’ve been reading a lot about bad pitches from PRs these days. How about letting some bad behaviour from journos get some air time too?! If they want us to help them do their jobs, they should show a little respect.
Dos and don’ts for jounros if you want to get the best out of a PR.
- Don’t agree to interview our client and then be unavailable at the appointed hour.
- Do let us know if something unexpected comes up and you can’t make it to a call.
- Don’t ignore our calls and emails after standing us up; do offer an apology or explanation.
- Don’t reschedule a call three times and still miss it. If you don’t want to have a discussion, tell us.
- Don’t commission a story, accept it and never run it, if it fits the brief.
- Do explain why a commissioned article will not be used in the end.
- Don’t interview our client’s customer, take up an hour of their time asking tons of questions, then not write nor offer any explanation of why not.
- Don’t blank us. We can’t help you if you don’t talk to us.
- Do be courteous even when we screw up. We’re all human and just trying to do a job.
Thank-you. I feel better now.
This morning I had a note from local publisher Keith Uren about the launch of new magazine for the Isle of Man. It’s called Here & There and will be published monthly as the in-flight magazine for Manx2.com airlines.
Here & There will be an A5 glossy magazine published on the 1st of every month and will contain a lively mix of news, business, entertainment and lifestyle together with features on all Manx2.com destinations including hotels, places to visit and dining out. ‘Here & There’ will also carry Manx2.com news and schedules.
This is good news for the Isle of Man. With the demise of EuroManx airlines a few weeks ago, we also lost an important in flight publication that was widely read by business travellers.
Manx2.com says they expect to carry in excess of 100,000 passengers over the next 12 months with a passenger profile split 50-50 between business and leisure travel.
Now business travellers on Manx2.com can also read expanded business news and features in Keith’s excellent ‘Isle of Man Portfolio’ magazine, which will also be offered in-flight by Manx2.com from June.
Portfolio is an excellent, quality publication and having it available on flights will add to it’s credibility, imho.
Imagine your spokesperson is hauled over the coals in a hostile interview for something that he never said. He holds his own in the interview but comes across looking defensive. What can you do, after the fact, to salvage the situation?
This is the exactly the challenge faced earlier this week by the PRs at 10 Downing Street when Prime Minister Gordon Brown faced John Humphry’s on BBC Radio 4′s Today programme, which airs weekday mornings to an audience of almost 9.5 million.
- forget the incident and just move on?
- complain to the reporter’s boss and demand an on-air apology?
- issue a statement, citing proof of the journalist’s error to the rest of the national media?
- request supplementary interview where your spokesperson can personally set the record straight with listeners?
- something else?
The folks at 10 Downing Street chose to No. 2 as their strategy. As a result they got a ‘clarification’ delivered in a light hearted tone on air the very next day which, it’s been reported, has further deepened the rift.
Reporting a journo to the boss when a mistake is made is no way to make friends, even if the journalist in question is one of the nation’s highest profile and most respected.
And having done so, it was folly to expect John Humphrys to deliver the corrected message to his audience, on behalf of the Prime Minister. I just can’t imagine him saying, “You know listeners, Mr Brown was right; I was wrong. My researchers screwed up my briefing notes, and I was unnecessarily aggressive towards the Prime Minister. ”
Me? Well No. 2 would not have been my choice. With No. 3 you’re just fanning the flames and broadening the story’s reach (not to mention making your spokesperson a target going forward). No. 1 does have appeal. The old ‘change the subject’ strategy has served many of well time and time again.
But I think I’d have picked No. 4 on this occasion. Our job is to build strong relationships with people working in the media. Once the facts are established why not ask the journalist to book the spokesperson for a second interview where he can speak directly to the audience and have a better chance of getting his message across? It would be a tough interview, but nothing Mr Brown isn’t used to already.
I’m not British. I don’t live in the UK. I’ve no particular political axe to grind here. But as media relations practitioner I am interested. I’d love to hear what the rest of the PR blogosphere thinks and how they would have handled it.
THE Journo is a recurring feature on Strive Notes…a kind of modern day ‘meet the press’. With this installment I am very happy to welcome tech and biz freelancer and entrepreneur…Sally Whittle.
Name: Sally Whittle
Title: Freelance journalist
Employer: I write for a mixture of magazines, newspapers, trade mags,
websites and commercial clients. I also run pitching workshops for PR
agencies, I blog from time to time, and I just set up a free media request service. I keep busy!
Beat: Originally technology but have now broadened out to include general
business, HR and training, charities and the public sector. Also just sold my first true-life story to a newspaper. Hurrah!
Career Highlight: Every time you break a story or a new publication is a bit of a thrill. But I really enjoyed working for an online newswire from 1999-2001 covering European Internet start-ups. I got to travel a lot and meet really inspired people who wanted to change the way we did things and some of them succeeded. Of course, a lot of them just blew millions on inflatable boardrooms but that was fun to see, too.
Your first job in media: I was a reporter for InformationWeek UK back in 1998. Sorry, I can¹t think of anything very cheerful to say about it: rubbish money, evil boss, no air-con in the summer. But I learned stuff, and it got better from there.
Your dream job: Fortunately, pretty much what I do now. The only things I¹d change would be all my clients accepting articles without any revisions, accountants paying me on time and my editors rewarding me with chocolate when I hit a deadline.
Oddest story I covered: The one predicting an epidemic of vocal RSI from using voice recognition software ranks pretty high. I also really enjoyed meeting the scientist who spent years developing a bit of technology that could analyse scents even though perfume gave him migraines. But my
favourite was probably the intelligent Barbie doll that could select and buy her own accessories without human intervention. It reassures me to see the awesome power of human innovation and creativity is being put to use solving the big problems.
I hate it when a PR: calls an editor to complain about me. I think it¹s the only time a PR has made me angry. Everything else daft pitches, relying on outdated media lists is just part and parcel of the job. I try and educate people about that stuff through the training courses, but it doesn¹t make me angry.
I love it when a PR: says something they learned on a course helped them get coverage. Or when they get in touch with a really good, exclusive story idea with good case studies and nice pictures. I¹m easily pleased.
Other journalists featured: