Monday, July 27, 2009

PR People Should Walk a Mile in Reporters' Shoes

A lot of PR people come from journalism and for good reason. They have prior experience going through the hassle of developing and delivering stories on deadline, even when people don't call back or seem unwilling to talk to you. Consequently, once they enter the PR world, they're more likely to be helpful to journalists calling for information. They've been there before.

PR pros who have never walked a mile in those scuffed, well-worn shoes--and I'm guessing many haven't--should try some freelance writing to see what it's like. I recently wrote an article that meant calling several utilities to schedule interviews with their Smart Grid experts. Some PR people were incredibly receptive and helpful; others were cool and detached like concierges checking me into a hotel, and I had no confidence they would put me in touch with the people I needed to speak with. Many of these--my absolute favorites!--simply said, with a false cheerful lilt in their voice that they'd call back once they made contact with their experts. And then they never did.

I sometimes fail to understand what leads some people into the PR profession. The role of PR is to help people and establish effective professional relationships. If you aren't willing to help a reporter out, why are you there? Try writing an article with an editor breathing down your neck to ensure you deliver your copy on deadline. It's a great way to improve your media relations skills.

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