I read a fair amount of Facebook group and media blog chatter about the love/hate relationship media folks have with PR people. At best, they begrudgingly acknowledge that sometimes PR people can occasionally be helpful. But as most public forums are inclined, complaints about PR folks tend to dominate these conversations. As a PR professional, it’s difficult to reply to or refute these attitudes, as that can fly in the face of our goal of fostering good working relationships with members of the media for the benefit of our clients.
Instead, let me tell you about a recent media experience and you can draw your own conclusions. My firm works to place stories about the good work our nonprofit clients do. These are stories of helping feed hungry people, assisting the homeless, supporting young mothers and seniors in need and honoring veterans.
We work diligently to provide good information and quality story ideas to the media. Do we feel that sometimes our information just goes into a dark hole? Sure. Are we frustrated that media folks don’t always respond? Of course. We’d love a “this is great but it’s not what I’m covering these days” or “I just don’t have time to cover this right now” note. But, we also know that the media is increasingly overworked as well as bombarded by pitches of varying quality from eager media relations folks.
On the flipside, we’re finding that the reporters and producers with whom we are working seem to be amazed that we are responsive when we do hear from them; that we work quickly to connect them with more information/photos via Dropbox/interviews with relevant spokespeople. In short, they seem to be amazed that we are doing our job.
Just this week we had a reporter come to us wanting to do a story on one of our clients. We quickly realized what he wanted to cover and what the client did wasn’t a perfect match, so we set him up with another client who could tell the story he wanted to cover. We arranged for him and the cameraman to be on-site at a food pantry the very next morning to interview staff and clients. We provided him with current stats about hunger at the state and local levels after the interviews. His parting comment to me? “Thanks for all your help pulling this together. I usually have to do it all myself.” My response, “I’ve been doing PR for 25 years. This is my job.”
The result of this work was an excellent piece on the agency’s work that aired on two TV stations, and the reporter plans follow-up stories featuring another client of ours that deals with food insecurity.
Sure, there are some bad apples in the bunch when it comes to PR folks AND media folks. But, if more media relations pros focused on their job – making it easy for media folks to do their job – maybe they’ll write a few less “why we hate PR people” rants. Let’s all work to make them appreciate us. It’s our job.