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PRs Vs Cold Callers

Posted by Juliet Philip on 5th April 2013

As a PR for many years I have spent more hours than I care to remember on the phone to journalists. You pick up the phone, hope the journalist is there and that you are calling at ‘a good time’.

The majority of the time there are pleasantries on both sides, the business is conducted, a polite “no thank you” or “great send it over” and we part company.

However, a problem that a journalist from the Independent had recently – he apparently cracked after the “9,994th email from a PR pushing a product” – and an evening at home with four cold calls in 45 minutes, made me wonder if some journalists equate PRs to cold callers.

I get stroppy with cold callers who I consider are invading my privacy and, in fact, told one energy company representative last night to EDF off.  But the reality is that they are “just doing my job” in the same way that a PR is.  However, I only call the journalist at their desk and not out of working hours, unless there is a specific agreement to speak then.

The question is… if someone is at their desk are they fair game? It is an uneasy relationship really.  Both sides need each other.  However much the journalist would rather write articles of their choice, the reality is that they have to print news and keep up with what is happening within the sector they are covering.  And who provides the majority of that information – the PR.

I, and my colleagues, have always taken the view that we are invading the journo’s space on behalf of our clients so we should tread carefully and not pester when we are obviously not wanted. It used to be that press days should be avoided but with continuous copy being uploaded online now there is no longer a ‘right day’ to call.

Sending out press releases clogs up their inbox so we aim to ensure that the release we send out is both informative and relevant to the person we are sending it to.  Many is the time I have gently broken to client that their ‘news’ is really not going to be of interest or had to explain that a distribution list of six really is a valid one.

I think the simple answer is that if a PR does their job well and client news is news, then these problems should not occur – and I should be nicer to cold callers!

photo credit: mrskyce cc

Juliet Philip

Juliet has been with Wildfire for over 15 years, initially writing client’s internal communications before taking on a traditional PR role. During this time she has worked with clients in the electronics / telecoms sectors alongside manufacturing and VC companies. Juliet’s strength lies in her ability to identify a story and then communicate that story to the media. She rarely takes no for an answer and her drive and dedication endear her to media and clients alike. Firm but fair, Juliet always gets the right result.