During Portland Cocktail Week, I was a panelist in a seminar called "PR and Writers: Can't We All Just Get Along?"
We talked about things that PR folks do that aggravate bloggers and writers, and things that writers do that annoy PR people. Tomorrow I'll post about what writers do.
I should add that these are not all my top peeves, but a consensus based on the opinions of a number of booze writers.
Top Things PR People Do that Annoy Bloggers and Writers
(in no particular order)
"When will the story run?"
It sounds like an innocuous question, and we don't blame you for wanting to know. Please feel free to ask when we're first communicating and we'll give you an estimate.
But we often get follow-ups to this question a dozen times every week and you just need to stop. In the first place, unless the story is on our own blog, we don't have control over when a story will run- and even if we think we know, the answer often changes (and then you'll harass us again when it doesn't show up).
In the second place, you have a Google news alert on your client brand and that will let you know when the story runs. It will probably know before we do.
I'm sure you need to send the same email out to a lot of people, but if you can't even get our names right (or you send "Dear Writer Name Here" to everyone), then we've got problems.
Some writers don't mind follow-up emails, which are usually nothing more than repeats of the first email. (I hate them and will let you know that.) But the pet peeve comes in when PR folks follow up automatically without checking to see if the writer has, in fact, already written about the topic.
"I'm writing to introduce you to my client"
Just because this is a new client to you doesn't mean it is to us, so when you write us to "introduce" us to a brand that we've written about ten times already, it makes you seem very lazy. The very minimum you must do is google our name and your client's name together.
Then instead of insulting us by telling us about something we clearly already know, you can write, "I see you've written about my client before and I just want to let you know I'm the new contact in case you have any questions or need additional information." Now you have shown you've done your homework and are awesome.
Sometimes I get invited to one event by the national brand PR team, the PR for the restaurant in which the event is being held, the PR for the hotel in which the restaurant is located, and the guest performers/bartenders. It's great to feel so wanted, but ugh.
However, that's less annoying than getting the same email from multiple people at a single PR agency. Coordinate your lists, folks.
Some PR agencies divide up their email lists not by their clients, but by the writers. So each writer has only one contact at the PR agency. That's not always practical but as I writer I love it: I always know who to contact.
Never, unless you have been specifically invited to do so.
Some brands seem to change PR agencies every six months. Many PR workers seem to change jobs every six months. This makes it very hard to keep track of who is repping what brand.
Might I suggest that PR agencies in particular hire skilled workers and do your best to keep them? Or have a training program at your agency?
One would think it is obvious that PR people should pitch writers who cover relevant topics. But apparently not. Add to this follow-ups and phone calls on irrelevant pitches.
Not Having Materials Ready
When you tempt us with your sexy story topics, we might need to jump on them right away. So when you send out a pitch you should have available brand logos, relevant photography (high and low resolution), fact sheets, etc. If you don't have those ready to send out, you're not ready to send out the pitch.
Invites to Events in Cities Where We Don't Live
From speaking with other writers, this is one of the largest pet peeves we have. It makes you seem lazy (like you didn't bother to find out where people lived before sending out an invite) or arrogant (assuming everyone is in New York).
And if you don't know, it's perfectly fine to write an email to ask before sending an invite.
A Few Wishes For Working Together Better
In the seminar we also talked about a few things we'd love to see from each other. Here are a few things writers would like to see from PR folks.
- Put your client list in your email signature. It might stimulate additional placement possibilities.
- Have a download folder for each pitch with relevant materials in it, or links to downloadable files. That way when we decide we desperately need something at 3AM, we can get it.
- Make it known if an event is a small/intimate one and that we should be sure to cancel with you if we can't make it after RSVPing. As we'll read in tomorrow's post, it turns out not showing up to events is one of your top pet peeves.
What do you think? What did we miss?
Next post: PR pet peeves about bloggers and writers.