25 PR Habits That Drive Reporters Nuts

The media world is filled with fraught relationships. Perhaps none more so than the interplay between reporters and public relations people.

The heart of the many disagreements between these two camps is that one camp wishes the other didn’t exist, or at least existed in far fewer numbers. And yet, the relationship is symbiotic, however mutually disdainful. Journalists call PR folks “flacks,” and they reciprocate with the pejorative “hacks.”

We used our own experience, as well as those from other reporters who love to complain, to come up with a quick guide for PR pros to the things that drive reporters nuts. Because sometimes it’s OK to hate the playa and the game.

1. The overuse of “thrilled.”
You know it’s a press release when someone is thrilled. Disingenuous isn’t strong enough to describe this.

2. The infographic “exclusive.”
A “visualized” press release is still a press release.

3. The dial-in conference number.
There was a time when two people could have a conversation without three other people silently listening in.

4. The call to follow up on emails.
There’s probably a reason you didn’t get a response the first time.

5. Re-sending emails that got no response.
Again, sometimes silence actually speaks volumes.

6. The exclusive that isn’t.
We get the press release 15 minutes early? Whose ring can we kiss? Should the bow be at precisely 90 degrees?

7. The brochure turned “contributed piece.”
Turning a sales deck into narrative form does not make it an editorial piece.

8. “Sharing this with you under NDA.”
This is DOA.

9. The presumed embargo.
Wait, when did I agree to this?

10. The presumptuous meeting.
I’m meeting with who? Why? What is this calendar invite? What’s Admonger anyway?

11. The pitch that’s the exact story I just wrote, only with your source.
I’ve moved on. You should, too.

12. Using personal information from social media in pitches.
This isn’t clever; it’s creepy.

13. The hug.
No, I’m not comfortable.

14. The big-time.
Copying my boss won’t help, it will make your future emails mysteriously land in my spam folder.

15. Sending copies of marketing books.
Nobody reads these. Nobody.

16. Babysitting in-person meetings.
A coffee where two people are talking and one is observing isn’t normal.

17. The guilt trip.
I know you have client pressures, but journalists have no feelings.

18. The client audit request.
You’re pitching a new client, but that doesn’t mean I’m your free focus group.

19. The Valentine’s Day card.
Creepy.

20. The sly mention your client is an advertiser.
Not subtle. Not effective.

21. Playing gatekeeper.
You mean I’m risking not getting that pre-brief?

22. Facebook friend requests.
How well do we really know each other?

23. Asking to review quotes for the “story angle.”
You sound nervous. Are you nervous? Why would you be nervous?

24. The “deskside briefing.”
Sounds like a surgical procedure performed on the reporter.

25. The Webex.
Nobody ever talks about a good Webexing.

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