Crossing over to the darkside…

I ran into one of my journalism professors earlier this school year and when she found out that I was in the Corporate Communications and Public Relations program she jokingly said, “Oh, so you’re crossing over to the darkside?”

Yes, I guess I am.

As a former journalism student I know what it’s like to be at the other end of the rope. There are certain stereotypes about PR people that I have run into on several occasions:

  1. They never call you back on time and if they do, your deadline has already come and gone
  2. For people whose job it is to communicate with the public it’s hard to get a hold of them
  3. When you finally get them on the phone, everything they tell you can be found in the media kit or news release

Now, at first I thought PR people weren’t getting back to me because I was a student, but even when I call them saying I am writing a story for a reputable radio station I still have trouble getting an interview on time – or getting one at all!

Another thing that bugs me is when PR people call the newsroom and start pitching stories to me.
I am not the editor and your story isn’t going to get any coverage if you continue to do this.
I don’t mean to come off as condescending – I’m still a student learning the ropes of communications and PR – but it’s someting my professors have taught us not to do and it’s something that really annoys me because you should at least know who you should be pitching the story to if it’s you want coverage. Come on!!

I digress.

 Now that I’m in the process of crossing over the dark side, there are a couple of things I do as a journalist that can act as PR repellent.

  1. I ask questions that have been answered in the news release
  2. I haven’t done sufficient research about the issue or the organization and then expect the PR person to provide me with an overview
  3. I call/e-mail more than I should
  4. I want to talk about everything except their key message

The great thing about having a journalism background is I know what it’s like to be in both positions and I can use this my advantage. For example, when I am calling a newsroom to pitch a story I will make sure I know which reporter/editor to ask for.

As annoying as one may find the other, at the end of the day the communicator needs the journalist to report the story (properly and accurately) and the journalist needs the communicator to provide them with more information about the issue in a timely fashion.

You know what they say, you can’t live ’em and you can’t live without ’em.

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2 Comments »

  1. staffeen said

    Marciel,
    You’ve touched on so many valid points! It basically highlights the basics from our Carney/Media Relations class. If only all of us could have a taste of the Journalist’s world, to understand the dynamic at that level. I’m severely hoping that our side isn’t that dark!? Or perhaps with some knowledge of both sides, it can be more challenging and less daunting.
    Great blog, and keep up the insightful notes!
    🙂

  2. My journalist friend in Ottawa always asks me if I’ve lost my soul yet : ( Haha.

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