I Heard It From The PR Girl

Chapter 11: Getting Along with Journalists

Posted in Reading Notes by laurynwilliams on March 31, 2010

This chapter tells a lot that students need to know about the world of public relations.

The Media’s Dependence on PR

“Two-thirds of journalists don’t trust public relations people, but 81 percent say they need them anyway”

Although many reporters deny it, most of their information comes from public relations sources, because they provide a constant stream of news releases, features, planned events, and tips to the media. Reporters do not like to admit their dependence on public relations sources, because they feel it reflects negatively on their ability to do their job as reporters. This is an issue of pride.

Frictional Areas

News releases contain too many hype words such as “unique” and “state-of-the-art.” Journalists see these as poorly written.

Major Complaints from Journalists about PR:

  1. Too many unsolicited e-mails, faxes, and phone calls
  2. Lack of knowledge in the product or service
  3. Repeated calls and follow ups
  4. Spokespersons not available
  5. Do not meet publication deadlines


How to Reduce Sloppy Reporting:

  • Educate executives about how the media operate and how reporters strive for objectivity.
  • Train executives to give 30-second answers to questions. This reduces the possibility of answers being distorted.
  • Provide extensive background material to reporters who are not familiar with the topic.
  • Familiarize executives with basic news values such as conflict, drama, human angles, and obstacles.

Reporters are faulted with not doing their homework on a story before-hand, sensationalizing, and making simplistic generalizations.

How to work with Journalists

Press interviews, news conferences, media tours, and other kinds of gatherings provide excellent opportunities to build public relations peoples and journalists’ working relationships. These face to face meetings will help accomplish the objectives of increasing visibility, consumer awareness, and sales of products or services.

If a reporter calls to request an interview with you, ask the reporter these questions first:

  • Who are you?
  • What is the story about?
  • Why did you call me?
  • What are you looking for from me?
  • Who else are you speaking with?
  • Are you going to use my comments in your story?
  • When is the story going to run?

This allows you to decide if you are qualified to answer the reporter’s questions or whether someone else in the organization would be a better source for the reporter.

PR Firms and Media Tours

A media tour is an alternative to a news conference. Instead of being held in one location, a media tour involves personal visits to multiple cities and a number of media throughout the region. There are two types of media tours, on that aims to generate media coverage and one that aims to provide background and establish relationship building.

When a PR firm is hired to arrange a media tour their job is to

  1. Schedule appointments with key editors
  2. Conduct media training for the organization’s spokespeople
  3. Prepare an outline of key talking points
  4. Make airline, hotel, and local transportation arrangements for each city
  5. Prepare a briefing book about the background of the editor and the publication that will be visited


All material here is quoted or paraphrased from Public Relations Writing and Media Techniques (6th Ed.)

There is so much in Chapter 11 that I feel is important I encourage any PR student to read this to become more familiar with the world of PR.


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