Dealing with Picky Journalists and Editors

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Getting your press release or news story into a newspaper, on TV, or even a journalist’s blog can be an uphill battle. It makes it that much worse when the journalist or editor is super picky. After the fifth round of third degree questioning, and a brutal fact checking, it can seem like they just don’t like YOU and it has nothing to do with the material you’ve sent them.

So now it becomes a game of finding what makes the journalist tick rather than what makes a great press release. While this is fairly annoying, it’s not an impossible task. It just takes a little more work than usual.

Computer keyboard with red help buttonHunt Them Down 

Ok, that sounds a little overly ominous and dramatic. But if you want to know who this journalist is and what they’re about, you have to dig deep into the web and search them out. Since they’re a member of the media in the digital era they’re more than likely going to have some sort of web presence. Whether it’s a blog series or their articles are online it’s time to go read the rest of their stuff.

Everybody likes to receive praise. Journalists sometimes feel like they’re talking into a vacuum. They spend all this time writing, editing, and laying out copy with hardly any notice from the public. When they do get it it’s typically negative, as people love to complain much more than they love to praise!

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So if you go onto their blog or past articles and give them due props, they’re going to notice. Share their blog posts on your social media sites and tag them in it. Respond to comments and get a good conversation going, or you can simply take the time to thank them for their diligence and good work.

Offer to Help 

Typically when you offer to help a journalist it’s with the understanding you’ll eventually get something in return. However, with picky journalists who don’t seem to like you for whatever reason this may not happen. Not doing it, though, could rob you off many opportunities.

Try looking around for a story the reporter could use. A solid lead or even a great quote from a local business person you know they want to talk to would work wonders. If you make their lives easier by lessening their workload they’re going to appreciate it, no matter what weird grudge they have against you. (And remember, they probably don’t. Journalists are some of the most stressed professionals in the world.)

This is where the research you did earlier comes into play. If you know exactly what they need (a big human interest story, for example) and deliver it to them, you’re likely going to be in their good graces.

Check Your Writing 

How good are your press releases or the feature stories you have submitted? I can’t tell you how many people have told me they thought various reporters were on their case when it turns out they had a pretty awful editing problem in their piece. One colleague said they had accidentally submitted the wrong draft – multiple times!

So before you do any of this extra work and drive your local reporter crazy, check your writing to make sure it is absolutely top notch. Send it to a few coworkers and friends to make sure everything is up to speed. Don’t feel bad about spending a little extra time on it to get it perfect.

When you’re done, NOW you can go hunt your favorite reporter down and do all the above listed. It certainly won’t hurt to get on their good graces before they read your new press release. Who was the pickiest journalist you’ve ever come across? (Names can be changed to protect the grumpy!) Did you ever get into his or her good graces?

This article is written by Mickie Kennedy, founder of eReleases (, the online leader in affordable press release distribution. Grab your free 160-page copy of the Big Press Release Book – Press Releases for Every Occasion and Industry here:

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