A PR tells you what she’s learned

Written by Fiona Gildea

Any aspiring or seasoned PR professional will be able to tell you – no two days in the world of media relations are the same. Having said this, there is one, loyal staple in your life: the Gorkana media database.

Three hours into building a monster media list (you know the ones), we spotted a Gorkana note next to a media contact that made us laugh.

But, it is also got us thinking that these notes remind us of serious PR faux-pas.

We’re pretty good at taking feedback from our media contacts, and getting the right story in front of the right people, so let us share some valuable tricks of the trade through the medium of journalist Gorkana notes.

These are all real notes, but name have been changed

  1. James: puzzles editor

Short note: James just manages puzzles – not competitions or promotions

Lesson: know who you need to speak to.

Don’t close your eyes and pray that the puzzles editor might also, possibly, maybe be interested in quizzes. Do your research and find out the person who might actually be interested in your story, and consequently, also interested in sharing it with their readership or audience. Guesswork and assumptions will get you nowhere.

  1. Joan: food features editor

Short note: Joan likes to review material in her own time. She doesn’t like to receive emails about food in lieu of samples

 Lesson: know what you need to do to stand out.

While I envy Joan’s food parcels, on a serious note, if you are in a competitive space, know what it takes to stand out. Move away from a call or an email where you can. Can you make a video or tell the story with pictures or animations– find a way to make it memorable.

  1. Joe: news reporter  

Short note: He specialises in stories about travel, sex, weird/bizarre and global defence/security

Lesson: there is a reporter to fit your niche.

Now, nine times out of ten, I doubt you are pitching a story combining sex, a bizarre first person account and top secret GCHQ information. (If you are I feel like you’ve been camped out in a bush in Vauxhall for some time now.) But if it’s complex business financial payments or a health issue worthy of Embarrassing Bodies, make sure you find the reporter to fit your pitch. A focused, tailored approach will get you further every time.

  1. Jocelyn: news editor

Short note: Jocelyn doesn’t like PRs being overly familiar if they have not met or spoken to her before 

Lesson: you can’t charm your way out of a bad story.

Sorry guys, but a reporter’s nose for news will sniff you out if you try and sugar coat a weak pitch. Read everything you can get your hands on, and know the media landscape inside out. Find out from your friendly contacts what their daily routine involves – and then you might understand why they don’t want to tell you how they are, or chat about the weather. Your media knowledge will help your copy make the cut.

  1. Jacob: senior writer

Short note: Jacob does not wish to have his contact information displayed on Gorkana and does not wish to be contacted by PRS

Lesson: get the hint.

Jacob probably doesn’t want to hear from you, because he can do nothing for you. Journalists aren’t the bad guys, and they are open to idea and pitch collaboration with PRs, as well as a good old case study hunt now and then. If they don’t what to hear from you, it’s not personal – your story isn’t right for them. Better get searching again.

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