Blogs  / June 19, 2013

Top 5 PR don’ts from an important tech reporter we can’t name

by Rebekah Iliff

To forward the discussion from last week’s post “How to pitch the press” I thought it would be fun, and possibly frustrating, to point out the Top 5 Don’ts courtesy of a really important tech reporter from a really big news organization that will go unnamed.

But let’s just say it’s one of the top ten, and if you ever appeared in print or online in this publication you’d be extremely happy with your PR efforts. I will also point out here that 40% of tech stories covered by press are about the big five: Facebook, Apple, Microsoft, Google, and Twitter. This is an important factoid to note if you think, for ANY reason, you deserve or are guaranteed press coverage for your tech company on a regular basis.

The Journalist

Just who is this Tech Reporter X? Hmm

It ain’t happenin’. Fish elsewhere. Contribute to niche blogs. Write your own blog with an interesting point of view. Get social. Create meaningful relationships with influencers. This is all part of the PR machine.

This blog post is not intended for seasoned PR pros – because they will likely be privy to the points he (or maybe it’s a she?) makes below…save the last point which is still largely up for debate. We will get into embargoes next week. THAT will be a fun discussion.

Straight from “Tech Reporter X” are the Top 5 Don’ts:

1) Don’t ask reporters to rewrite a press release. They take pride in THEIR work, not in being YOUR amplifier. [Sorry to jump in, but this goes back to the article “Journalists: it’s about them not you” from a couple weeks ago]

2) Take NO for an answer. Meetings are great. Introductions are welcome. Connections are awesome. They don’t always (often) lead to immediate stories. Trust that if a reporter wants to cover the news he/she will. Pressure from you to do so is only a deterrent. So in “don’t” form I guess it’s – Don’t be annoying!

3) Don’t avoid my calls. Your job is to be available. You get paid to be available. When you take 3 hours to respond to a request, a reporter knows you’re ducking. If you can’t deliver the goods, so be it, but don’t lose contact, especially on a scoop.

4) Don’t Don’t DON’T put the word CORRECTION in an e-mail subject line unless you are CERTAIN there’s a factual inaccuracy. Nothing lifts a reporter’s blood pressure like the word CORRECTION. If you think there may be a problem or you don’t like how something is characterized, pick up the phone or send an e-mail asking the reporter to call you. You will get major cred points.

5) Don’t do embargoes. I know…crazy. But EVERYBODY hates them. You hate them, your boss hates them, reporters hate them, editors HATE them and readers despise them. They do. They make fun of them. Are they sometimes unavoidable? Probably. But get creative. Find ways around them, ask reporters how to avoid them, tell your boss there’s a better way. Because there IS a better way.

So there you have it. 

My hunch is that “Tech Reporter X” is not alone is his requests. Journalists, at least the good ones in popular industries, likely field 500 to 1000 email pitches a day. I mean, that’s just insane! If you put all the pieces together, if you cull words of wisdom from various reporters and writers, what you’ll find is that (at the end of the day) no silver bullet exists. If there was, this industry wouldn’t be the Cluster-F that it is.

It’s about timing.

It’s about listening.

It’s about relationships.

It’s about putting yourself and your brand out there in a creative way.

But most of all…it’s about building a great product that solves a problem and telling your own story in a meaningful and compelling way. Slow and steady, day after day, month after month…because good things do take time.

And PR is no exception.

Stay tuned next week as “Tech Reporter X” goes head to head with “PR Pro X” in “Battle of the embargoes.”