Journalists and public relations professionals rely on a lot of the same skills: The ability to discern what’s newsworthy, juggle multiple projects, work efficiently under deadlines, communicate clearly and maintain good relationships with sources (or clients) are all important aspects of both jobs.
But a skills overlap doesn’t always mean we have the same priorities.
On the best days, our relationship is mutually beneficial. We help each other report important and engaging stories. On the worst days, every public relations professional has a story about an uncooperative journalist — and every journalist has a story about an irritating, self-serving PR person.
Last week, the media blog JimRomensko.com shared a Facebook status from a newspaper editor who had a frustrating email exchange with a marketing professional. In it, the marketing pro requested journalists give her staff credit for press releases that journalists rewrite and publish under their own byline.
We heard responses across the board, but most agreed that while attribution is important, the accusations of plagiarism were inaccurate. But this isn’t the first reminder that PR-journalist relations can be rocky. We polled our journalist colleagues on their biggest PR pet peeves — and we’re sensing a trend. (Names withheld to protect our sources.)
- “When PR folks obviously get my name from Twitter and address me by my first and middle name in their greeting.”
- “When PR folks think I’m male.”
- “When people spell my name wrong and then request a reporter and photographer for their event, which is set to take place in the next 48 hours.”
Basic human decency can go a long way — introducing yourself and paying attention to details when writing to reporters and editors who may pick up your pitch, for example.
Maybe a little goodwill can turn a love-hate relationship into the beginning of a beautiful friendship.