Change is good

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September 15th, 2010 Priyanka Joshi

Seven years back when I started my career as a reporter, journalism was different and so was the  way it was done.

Just to speak of the basics — internet was a dial-up connection (which took annoyingly long minutes to connect) and filing stories from anywhere but office meant an extra dent to your pocket (if you take in to account the cost to log on from an internet café or home). Most Press Releases were usually faxed or delivered physically (in case the email was not read by the recipient or worse got lost in the world wide web!) Mobile phones were catching on but there weren’t any SMS reminders sent in bulk for press events.

Today, both journalists and the industry have adapted itself around technology. Emails have become a part of life and emails on mobile phones are even more critical. International corporates are just a call or a video-conference away and filing news reports is possible from any corner of the country as long as it has a mobile cell tower or a data signal connectivity.
Yet when I look at corporate Public Relations (PR) executives – an important part of any journalist’s life – sending ‘bulk’ emails that make no sense, doing follow-ups of press releases (usually the junior most PR colleague is assigned this task) on ‘deadline’ hours, and off late pitching for clients on social media sites, it just makes me cringe.
Why can’t PR executives use technology efficiently? And this brings me to the question, how exactly should a PR professional function? Here are a few things that come to my mind:

Use social media responsibly: If you have managed to get on to a journalist’s Facebook friend list or have been following his Twitter updates, then use this carefully. For me, it seems okay to talk about a prospective client/story on these sites, but remember not every journo takes to such invasion spiritedly.

Also, it’s unfair to post good story ideas on an open forum as might attract attention from other journalist colleagues.

After you friend a journalist, engage regularly and most importantly read their stories, post comments, share their stories with your friends and colleagues, and ask people in your company to make comments and share the stories further. To the journalist, that’s a huge win, and he or she will feel like they owe you one back, so to speak.

Use Chat Messengers, even more carefully: My personal rule is not to add any more PR guys to my web chat list (unless I have met them in person), primarily because it can become a nuisance. Some of them of try to behave like my long lost buddies and it is really irksome since most of the time I haven’t even seen their faces in real-time.

But if you are on a journalist’s chat messenger, then don’t try to use it as a tool to follow-up on press releases, or mail pitches. And if you have to, then don’t push it beyond one reminder on chat window as that will surely lead to blocking you on the chat.

And lastly, it is not cool to keep pinging on chat to ask whereabouts or designations or profile checks of colleagues of the journalist. Do that homework on your own.

Vow to never send attachments in Email. Ever: Imagine this – most journalists are on the road for a good part of the day and there’s nothing more frustrating than wasting time waiting for emails to download (on smartphones where data charges matter) because some PR chap attached four MB worth of photos that you never asked for in the first place.

Easier way would be to include a simple link in your email for the Press Release from where the writer can grab, download and get anything additional they want. If the journalist needs any details like photos, white papers, or whatever, they will revert to you (for sure!).

See what I mean about readability?

Know your journo: Make sure that you have an updated media list on your mobile phone. If you are calling a journalist for the first time, please do read his/her articles, blogs etc. It will only help in utilising time better.

When you don’t hear back after the press release/SMS blasts: If the writer is interested in your press release/story pitch/client, be assured that they will reach out to you (they need to show their bylines to bosses after all). Even if your email might have been flagged by their spam filter, they will eventually find it and decide if your pitch is worthwhile to them. If they don’t respond to your first attempt, take that as a sign of not being interested.

And please, don’t lurk during meetings: As a PR, when you sit in on conference calls or interviews then please remember who the journalist is trying to interview (clue: it isn’t you). PRs, who try to step in, once too often, not only deviate the course of the interview but also create a lot of irritation.

Wouldn’t it be easier if you briefed your clients beforehand and gave them – and the journalist – the space to have a proper, uninterrupted conversation?

In a nutshell, for me a good PR is the one who makes things easy for journalists. They coordinate things efficiently keeping the deadlines in mind and understand how journalist or publication plays its part in communicating news to wider audience. A bad PR is ill-informed, demanding, haughty, deceptive, intrusive, and sometimes plain idiotic.

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37 Responses to “Change is good”

  1. IP camera Says:

    Thanks a million for this, I appreciate the info

  2. best facial cleanser Says:

    Real nice ! Many thanks !

  3. car salesman Says:

    Great work.Really appreciable!!!!!!!!!!!!!Thanks a lot.

  4. Abhishek Says:

    Dear Priyanka,

    I probably started my career at the same time as you or may be little later and have dealt with as many journos as you must have done with PR execs.

    The basic difference b/w a PR exec n a journo is that the people from the PR/Corp Comm fraternity believe that their relation with journalists is a symbiotic one where each may need the other’s help. However, the media fraternity seems to believe otherwise. Had you been responsible enough to activate an auto-reply on your mail, you might not have been getting very many follow up calls during the so called ‘busy hours’. And talking about ‘busy hours’ - M sure u dnt file stories on a regular basis - you have a weekly column. And I agree that you must be feeling deeply disturbed if someone calls u on that one day during the week when ur filing the not so required gadget feedback!!

    As far as social media is concerned, adding or ignoring a person is to ur list is completely at ur discretion. There is no reason to complain if someone pitches a story to you online. And secondly, this happens only when journalists stop attending any calls giving themselves undue importance!!

    A sincere advice - We all work towards a cause and there is immense need to respect each other’s profession. If you do - it will work better for u. If not, continue enjoying heavy attachments, follow up calls, online story pitching n all…


  5. Sanghpriya Gautam Says:

    OMG - The lady should have start a PR school …. though she knows nothing but she’s confident

    Again ..must be a self confessed PR guru …

  6. Shalini Says:

    interesting and i totally agree, i share the same thoughts with my team as well…my only wish is all in the media could work like you have suggested, sadly it does not happen….there are two sides of a coin, an annoying PR executive and someone who understands the media well..similarly in the media there is a professional jurno as your self and a few who simply ignore :)

  7. Anuja Says:

    Hi, i too am a PR consultant and do agree to some of your points. But if you see the flip side, ther’s a reason a PR person would follow up after sending an email or sms..cos most of the times the mails are not received by the concerned journalists hence once a follow up is required.

    Having said this as much as a byline is important for the journalist so is seeing my idea culminate into a story important for a PR person:-)

    Besides, the onus must be on both the sides to maintain smooth and efficient communication, respecting the shortfalls in either profession to maintain perfect balance:-)

  8. Satpal Says:

    Wow, write a book as you seem to know a lot about PR and its intricacies, and then maybe the next book could be on the other side of journalism

  9. Vivek Shrivastava Says:

    I read your blog ‘What’s in your mind’, I feel that most of the PR agencies are not following that which you have not mentioned in your details.
    In my opinion and working style of my PR agency, we are applying every effort for the Journalist which makes things easy. But I have another experience which want to share with you i.e. In some of cities most of the Journalists are commercialised and PR agencies are very fed up with this attitude. As per alternate PR agencies are using major publications as commercial and rest on relationship. For this What you are thinking? pls reply.

  10. Ajay Says:

    Well done, Priyanka! You’ve given voice to what I’m sure a lot of the media feels about the PR trade, and though I think certain points are over-generalised, perhaps this was speedy piece. All best and we’ll certainly take these guidelines seriously. I was quoted several years back as saying that,”Good PR is taking your role as facilitators of stories seriously, and to make the journalist’s job as easy and smooth as possible.” After your story, I’ll add not annoying or relentless to that.

  11. Vijay Rastogi Says:

    This has got to be the most pompous and arrogant post I have ever read. Stop giving yourself so much importance

  12. Swarup Says:

    This is one of the best ones of yours. However, we shall allow a bit of leeway to our brethren and their sisters in the PR industry :-)

  13. Sonal Says:

    Wat Abt such bulk mails from journos?????


    Sorry to clutter your mail box. Please note there is a change in my mail yeterday.

    1. For the real estate story for S…………….. - the places to be covered are Bangalore and Vishakapatnam - not Bangalore and Hyderabad.
    My sincere apologies as the change was just made by the publication.
    Also please send this to builders who have a presence in BOTH cities - not any one.

    2. If you handle any premium art gallery and/or spa in Bangalore please revert in the next 30 minutes.
    For those whom I have already asked this query kindly ignore.



    This is a story for …… Airline Inflight magazine and is a feature on how the real estate scenario is in Bangalore and Hyderabad.
    Here are the queries:

    1. What is the current real estate scene in Bangalore and Hyderabad like?
    2. What are the new trends in realty in these cities?
    3. Where are the realty markets headed in these cities?
    4. Details of any new (kindly note NEW) projects that are coming up in these cities.Here I mean projects that have been launched and not completed.
    5. High res images (including of the spokesperson) - upwards of 1 MB.
    Please mention the full name, designation and full company name of the person to be quoted.

    I need responses by tomorrow - 21st Sep 2010 night as this needs to be filed on Wednesday morning itself.



    This is a story for D……….. on Whether The Indian Festival Season Boost Home Purchases This Year?
    Here are the queries:

    1. Do you believe that the festive season will augur well for home purchases?
    2. What factors would boost the demand?
    3. What should be kept in mind in this economy that is just recovering from recession?
    4. Anything else on this topic?
    5. High res images (including of the spokesperson) - upwards of 1 MB.
    Please mention the full name, designation and full company name of the person to be quoted.
    I need the replies latest by Monday 20th September 2010.



    This is a story for H…………….’s Issue and is in the Interiors section – Lighting feature.
    Story Brief: Lighting can make all the difference to the ambience of a hotel, whether it is in discreet lighting in the rooms, in the F&B outlets of the hotel or in the welcoming areas such as the lobby. Here are the queries:

    1. What are the new trends and products? Am doing a seperate bit on new and latest products, so please mention all details.
    2. What are the latest in lighting technology in the market?
    3. Please provide expert insights into the importance of lighting in hotels and restaurants?
    4.Do you have green options such as LEDs, energy saving and solar powered lighting devices?
    5. What are the lighting trends as per hotel areas:
    · Hotel Entrance
    · Reception & Lobby
    · Guest Rooms
    · Restaurants & Bars
    · Conference Rooms
    · Outdoors & Swimming pools
    · Spa & wellness
    6. Please comment on the trend towards Energy efficient lighting?
    7. Automation & system integration in a lighting management system - comments?
    8. High res images (including of the spokesperson) - upwards of 1 MB.
    Please mention the full name, designation and full company name of the person to be quoted.
    I need the replies latest by Tuesday 14th Sep, 2010.

  14. Surbhi Seth Says:

    Hi Priyanka,

    Enough though I am also from the PR industry but I totally agree with you. After spending some quality time in the industry, I also feel that most agencies are not working in the way they used to do earlier. But I am sure after your article you must be seeing some change.

  15. Shruti Says:

    Agree with most of the points your points but may be you should follow this up with a dos and don’ts for journalists as well :)

  16. Reema Says:

    Most of the times journalists are too lazy to research hence PR people have to spoonfeed all the information to them, sometimes as heavy attachments.. do you really expect us to not send this as a bulk message but remove 1 or 2 email ids of people like you because you don’t like it?? And smses because it is your same lot who tells us to sms them because obviously they are too busy and will forget it. They are also the ones who give us grief if we don’t remind them!!

    but unfortunately we have to tolerate all of this, this is a part of our job profile, to tolerate journalists!

  17. Kunal Says:

    Its amazing how all journos take a holier-than-thou attitude abt pr execs. u mention that pr guys dont respect deadlines and call u up at wrong times. well, dont u guys also incessantly call up senior heads of corporates for ‘quotes’ and ‘bytes’ at 7pm and expect the ceo/md etc to drop everything and attend to ur call, simply cos ur ‘media’. and this is not a one-off occurence, its quite often the norm. filing a story at 7pm does not mean u have the licence to call up anyone and demand for a quote..

    its funny how most journos go around bashing pr execs but the minute u need a favor / free passes / freebies etc, u suddenly seem to warm up to them. yes, many pr guys are not guided properly and hence end up being an irritant but the same can be said abt ur lot as well. if some pr people are uninformed, well so are many journos. im sure how often people get quoted out of context and journos make bizarre conclusions thereby misleading readers. how often do u guys own up to ur ’small inaccuracies in print’? except glaring errors, i have rarely seen any publication giving corrigendums. and most pr people and clients let these small inaccuracies go by cos it can be a waste of effort trying to reason with your lot. and as for pr guys being interefering at times, i buy ur point. but they have to only on behest of the client cos they pay retainers which pays the salaries, u guys dont.

    im not saying ur article is wrong, its just too biased and extremely one-sided. it takes two to tango Ms. Joshi..

  18. Priya Says:

    Agreed some PR execs do behave a certain way, but its not the same for all. I am a PR professional and i take offense to the way you have portrayed PR execs. If i ever get time, i would like to write a similar article (not specifically related to technology) but on the Do’s and Don’ts for a journalist. In real life, journalists too are unresearched (hence they lap up whatever story is pitched to them), unprofessional, most of the times lie to get a scoop for a supposed ‘exclusive/controversial’ story just to get their bylines on the front page, biased, sometimes plain idiotic and usually present only one side of the story. I even know of journalists who will call and ask for story ideas, like isn’t that your job, duh??

    If you want to know how painful journalists can be, ask some of the senior corporates! Everything is fair when it comes to filing a story, right?

  19. Manshu Says:

    Though these technologies have been around for a few years, they are relatively new, and people are still getting used to it, and probably the lack of guidelines (such as the one you laid out here) lead to boorish behavior by some.

    Michael Arrington had a great piece on Skype Etiquette which is related to the topic you raise here. Your readers might find it useful.

    On another note, I tried to add your feed to my Google Reader, but it seems to be broken, throws up an error.

  20. Priyanka Joshi Says:

    despite reading this blog, better known names in PR continue to send heavy PDF-releases as attachments. They continue to use SMS as the mode to follow-up for a story that they too know will never make to the newspaper. I fail to understand the logic, really

  21. Hariom Says:

    Good One. A PR person should definitely read it and follow the tips. Its always easy (and good too) for a Journalist to teach one or two lesson to a PR executive. Priyanka: I really liked your blog but I think the roots of the problem may be somewhere else. Going with all the profession, No one in this world wishes or dares to displead or irritate those people who are playing important role in earning his livelihood. Imagine a Credit card or Loan or Policy sellers, they don’t call or reach out people to irritate them, there are some bindings with which they have to survive in their respective profession. And, I hope you would agree that in every profession the Dominating Side always feel irriatated of the other side of people; here in this case the Journalists are Dominating side of the profession. So, there are professional limitations for everyone which one has to go with even if he or she is not feeling comfortable with that.
    Imagine a Journalist who is asked by his editor to interview someone very Important and on urgent basis. And that person is not reachable or responding easily. I am sure that Journalist would not follow the tips and would try all the tricks to reach out to him..It may be like calling that person to interview at late eveing say 9:00PM or meeting him at odd hours by reaching through unexpected & undesirable channel.
    I wish someday a PR Professional also dare to write something on Journalists (which they can not do because of professional limitations)
    …. Anyways…Its good input for PR professinal..afterall they have to go the way Journalists feel comfortable. Its good that you showed them the way in terms of developing and maintaining good media relations.

  22. Dipti Says:

    A well written piece Priyanka. It’s interesting to read the facts which we all know, but they get hardly implemented during the course of communication. To be precise all general practices are a result of the monotony of the system and acceptance by the recipient. A change is definitely needed.

  23. kalpana Says:

    Ms Joshi, if I could through your blog, request the PR gentlemen and ladies, not to call call or visit journalists between 5pm and 7pm. Its their filing time and that is when they get most of the calls to confirm receipt of press releases or visitors.

  24. Priyanka Joshi Says:

    thanks people — specially those from the PR industry, and many who have written to me over mails about this blog.

    Your points (dos and donts) can be added to this wish list too:)

  25. amit Says:

    hey i am a ca student
    i read your article and the words you used is superb

  26. Edra Says:

    Wow….this is simply good…I have just began my career in PR & these are some real helpful tips for me thanx!!

  27. Ajith Henry Says:

    Priyanka, a very insightful piece. I do agree with you on alot of points that you have pointed out. Sadly, PR professionals are bound to do ‘plain idiotic’ stuff which are directly coming from his/her unreasonable client(s) and a boss who would never say ‘no’ to an idiotic corp comm person. To my mind, a responsible PR professional should educate a corp comm person who most often doesnt understand the Do’s and Dont’s in media relations.

  28. ritika Says:

    It has been amongst the initial lessons for all the PR professionals across board, but a good piece to awake and fine-tune thier skills. commendable.

  29. Archana Says:

    Hi Priyanka

    I thought the article will be about the changes technology is bringing and how it can be put to its best use, but a little later than I started I realized its skewed towards the PR industry.
    It’s sad that PR executives sems like invaders rather than facilitators. Hope they learn the basic manners of what should fall under ‘interpersonal skills’ and my friends should not forget we are in the business of ’subtlety’. Thank you Priyanka, in a training starved industry, these are great insights.

  30. Moumita Says:

    Really interesting and true indeed. Being a PR person, I completely agree and share the same with all my PR colleagues for their read.

  31. Katya Says:

    Well said madame!

  32. Sabiana Anandaraj Says:

    This is simple hygiene, but often tends to be ignored by a lot of us - thanks for the frank yet niceness in which you have approached the subject. All the very best!!

  33. vinod Says:

    hi, this is invaluable. amazing how, somewhere along the way, we forget such basics which have been ingrained into us. am going to ensure that my entire office reads & follows this.

  34. kripa Says:

    good thoughts. wish all pr read this and follow

  35. Lee Says:

    Thanks Priyanka. am fairly new to my profession, so this has been a great help, makes me rethink a lot of the stuff we do.

  36. hema Says:

    wow, is this coming from 7 years of experience? I am a PR executive and I must refer my colleagues to this. thanks

  37. paul Says:

    well said, ms journo


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