As part of our advanced training courses we include media relations and one of the sessions focuses on the dos and don'ts of dealing with the media. Here are a few thoughts on how to get on the wrong side of journalists.
1. Expect to have your press releases published because you advertise. Advertising with a publication does not, and should not, give you the right to have your press releases featured. The publication will only carry items that are newsworthy, relevant or interesting.
2. Pay no attention to deadlines. Journalists have deadlines which means that, as PR professionals, so do we. When a reporter from a daily requests an interview or information they usually need it the same day and cannot wait until tomorrow.
3. Expect to approve an article or interview before it goes to print. You do not have control over the finished article/interview. Journalists have no obligation to share their final story with you and most often do not. You can offer to check a story but that is it.
4. Constantly give the media what you want not what they want. Your press release on employee birthdays is great for internal communications but it's not relevant for external consumption.
5. Harass the media. Journalists are busy people and don't really want PR executives phoning them to ask if they received their press release and when it will be published.
6. Promising and then not delivering. Be sure that you can deliver what you have promised before you make that commitment. Going dark, or not responding to follow up calls or emails from journalists who are expecting a response from you is bad manners.
In many cases, using common sense and courtesy will keep you on the right side of journalists – and don't forget that they have editors looking over their shoulders, so what you think is news and what they think is news is not necessarily the same thing.