Stop Complaining About Your PR Firm

Donna Berry Glass, Senior Counselor, here at LCI.
A couple of months ago I stumbled on a great post by freelance writer Amy Westervelt on Medium titled “Stop Complaining About Your PR Firm.  Here’s How the Media Works.”  Needless to say this immediately piqued my interest.
Throughout my career, I’ve gone to many talks and panel discussions with media about how they work and how they want PR people to work with them.  I’ve chatted with many writers and editors about the topic one-on-one.  But Amy presented it in a straightforward, matter-of-fact style that I found refreshing and yes, educational.  Even though the post was geared to startups, any company who works with a PR firm could take something away from it.
She makes some great points.  A few of my favorite excerpts from her post:
Sometimes when I meet with a company about what they’re doing, I don’t write a story right away. Maybe their product doesn’t actually exist yet. Maybe I’m waiting for a newsy hook to peg it to. You know what I hate? When the publicist sends me three emails a week to find out when I’m writing the story. You know why the publicist does that? Because his or her client is sending equally as many emails. Back off, people.
Your story is boring until proven otherwise. … No one is biased against you. We don’t care if you’re a Republican or a Democrat or how you got funding or whether your product targets tweens or grandmas. We care about whether your story is interesting.
Stop worshiping at the altar of print media. For whatever reason, people still think of print coverage as the ultimate feather in their cap. … At any rate, for a company, I’d say hands-down you’re getting more out of an online hit than a print piece. So stop riding your publicist’s a** about not getting you in the print edition of TIME and thank her or him for the mentions in various blogs.
I don’t agree with everything Amy says.  For example, she says media never read press releases.  Many don’t, at least past the headline, but I’ve gotten more than my fair share of stories that started with a press release.  I pretty much always have to “work it” beyond the release to get my story, but the release can still be a useful tool every once in a while to get the ball rolling.
To read Amy’s full post on Medium, as well find links to her ongoing series on this subject, click here.
Questions or comments? Please leave comments below or email us at: [email protected] or [email protected].
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3 thoughts on “Stop Complaining About Your PR Firm

  1. Donna and Amy – great thoughts: especially, stop worshiping at the altar of print media. There are many other communications outlets for your target audiences and it’s important to identify the right targets for the right audiences. Cheers, David

  2. Donna,
    Nice info and nice take on Amy’s blog.
    After 20+ years as a broadcast journalist, I agree with Amy that press releases are not often read. I worked at 2 national networks (and 5 affiliates) and received hundreds of thousands of faxes/emails/mailers/phone calls. 99.9% of them were not meant for me as a journalist. They were meant to go to a specific reporter (I was producer) or the assignment desk. The PR folk were just throwing spaghetti on the walls to see what stuck. I hated that.
    Now as a PR dude, I try my darndest to only contact journalists I know will be, or most likely will be, interested in the news. I’ve had lots of luck being more targeted and think that should be something taught to all people doing media relations. It’s that whole “working smarter, not harder” mantra in action.
    Amy’s also correct in her online v print battle. Online can be so much more immediate and can reach a larger audience. That’s what I tell my clients. If they believe me, well, that’s a whole other bag o’ hammers. 🙂

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