How to Ruin the Relationship with a Journalist: PR Mistakes to Avoid

As a public relations (PR) professional, building a strong relationship with journalists is crucial to getting the clients’ stories told. However, it’s equally important to understand that these relationships are fragile and must be nurtured consistently. One mistake can ruin a journalist’s trust and tarnish the reputation as a PR practitioner. In this blog post, we will discuss some of the most common mistakes that PR professionals make that can damage their relationships with journalists – and most of them are due to the client forcing the consultant to communicate something that the consultant would normally not do because of their experience and personal contact with the journalist. 

Recycled Content

One of the biggest mistakes is sending journalists content that has already been covered by other outlets. Journalists want fresh, new content that they can share with their audience. Recycling content not only makes you seem lazy, but it also wastes the journalist’s time. Before sending anything, do your research to ensure that the story you are pitching is unique and hasn’t been covered before.

Mass Pitching

Mass pitching is another mistake that you should avoid. Journalists receive hundreds of pitches every day, and sending a generic pitch to a large list of journalists is a waste of time. It’s important to personalize each pitch to the journalist you are targeting. By doing your research and understanding their interests, you can tailor your pitch to be relevant and valuable to them.

PR is a Verb, not a Noun

PR is not a one-time activity, but rather an ongoing process that requires consistent effort. Just like love, you have to work on the relationship every day. Every time you send a message, you show how much you care about the journalist and their work. Sending them a thoughtful message or congratulating them on their latest article can go a long way in building a positive relationship.

Timing is Everything

Timing is critical in PR. Pitching a story at the wrong time can harm your relationship with a journalist. For example, pitching a story during a crisis or a major news event might not be the best time, as the journalist is likely to be preoccupied with other matters. It’s important to research the journalist’s schedule and pitch when they have the time and bandwidth to review your pitch.

Don’t Ghost Journalists

It’s essential to be responsive to journalists when they reach out to you. If they’ve sent an email, make sure to respond within a reasonable amount of time. Failing to respond to a journalist’s inquiry or request can ruin your relationship with them. They may assume that you don’t take their work seriously or don’t care about their time. Remember, you need them as much as they need you.

Build Strong Relationships, but Don’t Be Overbearing

Building a strong relationship with journalists is crucial, but that doesn’t mean you should be calling them 24/7. It’s important to maintain a balance between staying in touch and being overbearing. Journalists are busy people, and bombarding them with phone calls or emails is likely to irritate them. It’s essential to respect their time and boundaries.

Understand Their Love Language

Just like in any relationship, understanding the other person’s love language is essential to building a strong relationship with a journalist. By doing your due diligence and understanding what they like and don’t like, you can tailor your pitches and messages to be more effective. For example, some journalists might prefer a phone call, while others might prefer an email. Some might prefer more data-driven stories, while others might prefer more human-interest stories.

In conclusion, building a strong relationship with journalists is essential to getting your stories told. However, it’s equally important to understand that these relationships are fragile and must be nurtured consistently. Avoiding the common mistakes mentioned in this blog post can help you build strong relationships with journalists.

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