Everything Journalists Want to Know About Their Public Relations Contacts

Since entering the world of public relations, my workday has changed drastically from the time when I was a professional journalist. Becoming a public relations consultant has altered how I deal with the media and how I deal with internal public relations at my company. I’m sure many in the public relations industry will be able to identify with the following list of day-to-day tips, gripes, and worries I’ve picked up while dealing with the media. Journalists may even learn a few tricks themselves.

Phone rings. Please let it be someone in the media — anyone in the media — calling about that email pitch I sent out this morning.

I can’t believe I was misquoted, and I look like an idiot as a result. How hard is it to take good notes?

OK, I’ve figured out the angle you’re taking in this story, even though you’re playing it “straight.” So if I give you a really strong quote, you’ll use my commentary as the central theme of your story.

Did I ask questions this stupid when I was a journalist? Don’t think; just release more endorphins and keep talking.

A television producer is very easy to deal with. All I have to do is remember that I’m disposable, and so is my proposed guest. If you anger a television producer, it’s very bad.

Sending the same exact pitch to 100 journalists does actually work.

I know more about this subject than the journalist writing the story. Maybe I should just write it for them and they can stick their name on it.

Give journalists sound bites and they will print them.

Leave my co-workers with the impression that public relations is very difficult. So much so that when we get a blog link, it’s cause for celebration.

Use the phrase “builds our credibility” when explaining why all publicity is good publicity, regardless of where it comes from.

I spoke to you on the phone for 45 minutes and then you don’t even quote me in the story. Of course, I have to be a “good boy” and not complain about it.

Yes, I did screw up and forget to use the “BCC” function on my email. And yes, now you know exactly who else was pitched on this story. And yes, I’ve prattled on for years about how stupid it is not to hide your distribution list.

You have to think your pitch will make a compelling story. Even if it’s not going to make the front page of the New York Times Magazine, it’s got to be worth a few column inches.

Media training cannot be conducted over the phone.

Why does my competitor get all this publicity?

No one told me public relations was this difficult!

This article, written by Ben Silverman, originally appeared in PR Fuel (, a free weekly newsletter from eReleases (, the online leader in affordable press release distribution. To subscribe to PR Fuel, visit:

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *