5 tips for journalists is way off the mark | Mantis Public Relations

5 tips for journalists is way off the mark

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I read 5 tips for journalists from a PR pro recently. Written by a PR company in the US, it took a few swipes at the working practices of journalists. I think the crux of the argument is that journalists should answer the phone once in a while, just say no if they don’t like a story to save us time, reply to emails, and update their contact records on services like Cision, Vocus and MyMediaInfo. Perhaps it was in response to the many similar articles written about PR people by unhappy journalists.
I think the frustrations the author feels (and is venting) are really systematic of that (and other) agencies approach to business growth. Some agencies will work with clients from multiple sectors and industries, e.g. B2B, consumer, tech, healthcare, education, and so on. That broad approach makes it really very difficult for PR staff to ‘learn the media’. How can any PR person really remember each journalist; follow online, understand the idiosyncrasies of each; and interact with the potentially hundreds of people covering those broad areas? I believe it’s almost impossible to do well.
Services such as Cision and Vocus are good for managing contact details, they’re a safety net against out of date information held in-house, but they don’t help PR people learn the media, understand an industry, or help them devise stories to pitch to journalists which help them achieve their goal – increasing their readership by making the publication decent and interesting.
At Mantis, we support technology suppliers selling to the public sector and rarely step outside of that niche. We know the media (and other industry influencers such as analysts and trade associations). We know which journalists will answer the phone; which would prefer an email; and we know which journalists will respond (to either). We know who will want photos, which will want an interview, and which will publish the press release verbatim. We know who to chase and who not to chase.
We love every minute of learning about them. It’s what makes people, people; journalists, journalists; and should be what being in PR is all about. Know your industry, understand who you are targeting and, as importantly, understand the pain points of that journalist’s readers, otherwise accept that you will get barked at now and again!

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