I’ve changed my feelings about journalists in the past few years. While there’s still a boatload full of hacks who opt for easy, sleazy and salacious shortcuts, there are many more who take pride in their craft and truly fulfill their role as the Fourth Estate.
My newfound respect is due in large part to having put myself in the shoes of a journalist. While I’m not covering City Hall for The New York Times, I am banging out a daily blog and, for the past few years, penning a weekly column for Inc. Magazine.
Moonlighting as a reporter has shown me how truly slipshod many publicists really are. I recall my anger a few years back when several reporters ‘outed’ PR people who had sent them spam e-mails, not bothered reading their columns before sending a pitch or, just kept pestering them.
I must say I’ve experienced that very same amateurish shotgun approach from many PR professionals, publicists and press agents who’ve asked me to cover their clients’ products and services. To wit:
- I’ve received e-mails addressed to Scott, Sam and Sadam.
- I’ve been pitched interviews with authors who’ve published books about everything from teen promiscuity and date rape to PTSD and skin care products. In almost every instance, the pitches have been incredibly broad, boring and boorish (and, had nothing whatsoever to do with the subjects I regularly cover).
Few, if any, publicists who’ve pitched me have taken the time to do what my professional colleagues know is PR 101:
- Read my blogs and columns first.
- Reference them in your pitch.
- Tell me why you client’s POV would be a good fit for me.
- If I don’t respond, it means I’m not interested. So, stop spamming me.
I still resent the superior attitude taken by many journalists. And, I also resent those reporters who insist they’ve never, ever relied on PR firms for information, contacts or story ideas. That’s bull.
But, I’ve looked at journalism from both sides now and, I must say, there are indeed two sides to every story.
Final note to my PR brethren: step up your level of professionalism. Your amateurish ways impact our entire industry.