Now, What Do PRs Want Cosmo To Know?

A few weeks ago, we blogged about the faux pas some PRs make. And, as we should have expected, stepped on some toes. The first response we received was that we, magazine people, should not call ourselves “journalists”. Editor-in-chief Debs proceeded to comment that while the post may seem to focus on seemingly trivial matters, they happen often enough to make us wish PRs would realise them. Also, she wanted to correct the perception that while magazine writers don’t cover current affairs, they do put in effort and research to ensure the quality of the stories in magazines are just as credible as what you’d read in the newspapers.

We decided to close the Comment function of that post because …

1. We felt that the point really isn’t to argue whether we should call ourselves journalists
2. We felt that both sides of the coin were sufficiently presented and we did not want the post to become a playground for anonymous trolling

We feel very strongly about anonymous trolling. We said what we said about PRs and we are willing to receive responses (good and bad) from the other side. But we wanted these responses to be credited and accounted for. This point made, we will now say that any comments we feel are “trolling” will be deleted.

Therefore, we decided to ask some PRs we work with for their responses to our post. We told them they could be 100% honest and we will not be editing unfavorable comments about us.

The first one we are showing now is from Ms Julie Chiang, Director at Asia PR Werkz Pte Ltd. As more responses arrive, we will be sharing them. Similarly if you are a PR professional who feels that you need to “give us a piece of your mind”, we welcome your email. All we ask is that you tell us who you are. Answers have not been edited.

Response from
Julie Chiang
Director
Asia PR Werkz Pte Ltd

Cosmo: Is it correct for us to say that we are not obliged to reveal whether we’ll be featuring something and when we’ll be featuring it?

Julie: Yes. It’s really for PR to pitch the product or story and the editorial’s decision to feature or not. We appreciate the honesty should you say you are not featuring. But we cannot expect you to keep us updated all the time. Of course an indication is always appreciated.

Cosmo: As a director of a PR company, what sort of phone etiquette are PRs expected to follow?

Julie: I think it’s always good to know when is a good time to call [Cosmo: Right. We understand and we promise we won't roll our eyes the next time someone starts a phonecall with this question.]. But should we be able to catch a journalist on the phone it always feels like we have struck gold. I always tell my people to make full use of the phone conversation. Know what is it you want to pitch and share the key points. Be ready with all your answers instead of saying ‘let me get back to you’ on every question the journalist ask. Be sharp, and concise with your information to the journalist.

Cosmo: So we’ve stated 5 “faux pas” that irritate us. Perhaps from the perspective of a PR practitioner, you could shed some light into why certain things are done in a certain way.

Julie:
1. To ask “Is it a good time to call?” – we are being polite and it is just basic manners so don’t think we are trying to put you on the spot. We will be grateful if you can tell us when is the best time to call you. If you prefer an email instead, tell us. We will be most happy to forward that email to you again.

2. Media Tracking IS our job – I agree to that. and as you mentioned, if you give an answer whether it is positive or not, it’s a bonus for us. But should you not be able to give an answer or indication, then its really our job to continue tracking.

3. RSVP. I cannot deny that it is only right to call the person or persons whom we have sent invites to personally to get an RSVP. Again, its basic courtesy.

4. Friday evenings are bad times for events. Definitely! After a week of work, the last thing I really want is to host a group of journalists. No offence but I do want to spend time with my friends and family too. But sometimes it is really not for us to decide as the nature of the event has to be on those days. However, should an event be held on a Friday night or weekend, do bear with us. Of course, as practitioners, we would have advised clients on the impact should a press event be held on those days. [Cosmo: We know some events have to be held on Fridays and on weekends. Of course, nobody wants to work on weekends. If we can, we will of course show our support too.]

5.  Knowing the preference of a journalist is always a plus. We try but sometimes its hard to keep track of what each journalist wants or doesn’t want.

Cosmo: What are some of the things we magazine-people do that irritate you?

Julie: I won’t use the word irritate but I guess it can be frustrating when we can’t get you on the phone after days of attempts. It will be the same for anyone. Especially when we have to report back to our bosses. Also, many times magazine journalist rsvp for an event and never did show up or are really late. We will rather you tell us you are not coming than to tell us you are and you didn’t. and to be super late for an event, I think it’s a reflection of your professionalism as well.

Cosmo: Is there any way you think the working relationship between magazine-people (and journalists) and PRs can be improved?

Julie: Definitely! At the end of the day we have to recognise we need one another to get stories and product information out there to readers. we all want to get our job done. So  practitioners should know what the magazine wants and needs while journalists, a little patience with us PR practitioners helps too.  Meanwhile, journalists, if you think the story or product we pitch is something your colleague is looking for, we appreciate you let us know too!

Response from
Marlene Ee
TV Communications Professional

The next response comes from Marlene Ee who works with PRs and who also handles annoying press requests from us for pictures and info on shows. She’s one person who can say she’s worked with both sides. Here’s what she has to say:

“I work with PR agencies so I do understand the pressures that PR practitioners face from clients (like me!)who are brand custodians that need that story out pronto. Having worked with journos, I’m also aware of the time pressure that you guys face and the numerous press releases, kits, screeners, calls etc that you get daily. It’s not funny, in fact, I think it can be overwhelming.

But with us trying to market our product and you trying to get the hottest story, there should be a middle ground where all parties can work without hiccups… Or not?

To be honest, I think an open letter to PRs is pretty intimidating especially since I believe they are making an effort to cultivate a working relationship with your publication and journos always have the upper hand in the relationship. Point 5 in particular as these are the things one would know only after dealing with the journos.

I agree with some of our points though and believe it all stems down to respecting each other’s time and boundaries.”

Cosmo:  Is it correct for us to say that we are not obliged to reveal whether we’ll be featuring something and when we’ll be featuring it?

Marlene: Hmm this depends. Say your publication get an exclusive interview with a celeb. We’ll definitely like to have an inkling of when the story will appear since it’s a lost opportunity for us if the interview never gets published or if it doesn’t relate to our current promotion.

I think lots of PR folks ask this question simply because they have been burnt before. We set up interviews and more and the journo just goes missing in action and nothing gets printed. Ouch!

Cosmo: So we’ve stated 5 “faux pas” that irritate us. Perhaps from the perspective of a PR practitioner, you could shed some light into why certain things are done in a certain way.

Marlene:

1. Asking if it’s a good time to call
I think that’s out of courtesy. Everyone’s busy so it’s best to talk when you’re not in the midst of something really urgent. Perhaps it can be phrased better.

2. Following up with journos if they’ll feature a product

Haha I’m guilty! It’s all about deliverables. In the case of TV – I give you a dvd to watch a program, pass you the press kit… Perhaps I’d like to know if you thought the show was awesome and would be promoting it. We’re trying to get eyeballs and a way is to get the buzz going through mainstream media. And if we don’t follow up, you guys may forget (with so much going on).

Cosmo: What are some of the things we magazine-people do that irritate you?

Marlene: I’ve been blessed not to have any run ins and many journos I’ve worked with have been really professional and also have become friends.

Cosmo: Is there any way you think the working relationship between magazine-people (and journalists) and PRs can be improved?

Marlene: It’s all about respecting boundaries and also understanding the demands of our jobs. Patience and kindness would help too! I guess when we’re busy, we often forget that the other person, however annoying, is also just trying to do his job.

Response from
Noelle Tan
Consultant/Director
Sixth Sense Communications and PR Consultancy Pte Ltd

Cosmo: Is it correct for us to say that we are not obliged to reveal whether we’ll be featuring something and when we’ll be featuring it?

Noelle: Absolutely. We are well aware of this and communicate this very clearly to our clients.

Cosmo: As a director of a PR company, what sort of phone etiquette are PRs expected to follow?

Noelle: Definitely a proper greeting delivered clearly, followed by full introduction first if the other party has not heard from us before. Following which, we do sometimes state upfront that the call will be very brief and we only need a few minutes of the journalist’s time. Depending on the situation, we may apologise for disturbing them or check if it’s a good time to talk. The only reason for checking is so that the journalist can make the decision whether to continue the conversation, request that we call back another time or simply drop them an email about the matter. Very often, calls are picked up in case they are urgent, and if they are not, the receiver has the prerogative to request for a call another time.

Cosmo: So we’ve stated 5 “faux pas” that irritate us. Perhaps from the perspective of a PR practitioner, you could shed some light into why certain things are done in a certain way.

Noelle: We place great importance and make it a point to obtain a yes or no response from the media for attendance to events and tastings, usually via email first and then through the phone.The reason we need to do this is because our clients need to know the attendance numbers to prepare ahead of time and also, it is our way of confirming that the invite has been received. It is definitely not our intention to bother journalists with our follow ups. Sometimes, media are appreciative of our follow up calls since most usually give us an answer there and then and if not, we usually work out an alternative date or arrangement.

Cosmo: Is there any way you think the working relationship between magazine-people (and journalists) and PRs can be improved?

Noelle: I believe that there should always be a mutual understanding that both parties are doing their job. As long as both do so to the best of their professional abilities, then things will go smoothly!

Comments
One Response to “Now, What Do PRs Want Cosmo To Know?”
  1. the hOOter says:

    Definitely perspectives that are well-appreciated! :)
    Keep these great stuff coming, Cosmo!

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