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Thin skin in PR

Monitoring what the Chinese are writing about health |


| This Week's Cutting Edge Podcast with Kiptronic's Jonathan Cobb

February 19, 2007

Thin skin in PR

Stephen Baker

Catch the angry and defensive comments to David Pogue's post about his pet peeve about PR. This one from JK hurt:

What’s the lesson for reporters? Know exactly why you are jaded. It’s not the PR people. It’s your deadline pressure, your poor pay and your poor prospects for making significant money anytime in the near future. It’s your career choice that’s making you crabby.

At one point, to blunt the attacks and recriminations, Pogue is moved to write a warm and fuzzy clarification. He writes:

However, i never HAVE expressed a dislike of PR people!

PR people make my job possible.

* They bring cool new products and trends to my attention.

* They actually tell me who their RIVALS are, so I can do a more complete roundup of the product category.

* They make themselves reachable nights, weekends, in sickness and in health, to help me get questions answered and problems solved.

* They remain available after the column comes out, even if they got a savaging review, to answer followup questions from readers.

* With very few exceptions, they are forthright, professional, and honest even about their product’s failings.

That doesn’t mean I can’t consider executive interviews a waste of everyone’s time.

09:43 AM

mainstream media, marketing

Stephen: It's interesting to note that the vast majority of comments on the post you linked to were left anonymously. Pogue went out of his way to respond, but should not have in my opinion.

The beauty of a blog is the conversation. And you take the good with the bad. But if someone wants me to take them seriously, they should stand by their words.

Pogue was giving insight into how he likes and dislikes receiving information. Negative, defensive responses to that are silly and short-sighted. I can say that because I'm leaving my name and serial number. :-)

-- Kevin Dugan

Posted by: Kevin Dugan at February 20, 2007 03:51 PM

Being on the flack side of the equation, I sympathize deeply with every journalist and analyst I work with. I don't think anyone (outside the business) has any idea of the sheer volume of contacts being attempted.

From the never-ending incoming emails to the assault by phone/fax/carrier pigeon, it is a (nearly) thankless job with hard deadlines, long hours, NDAs and embargoes.

Also, there are a tremendous number of bad (or one might say, ineffective) PR people that blast and blast and blast some more in the hopes that, eventually, they will wear down the press' defenses and they'll get a briefing or some coverage.

Posted by: Erik at February 20, 2007 06:57 PM

Thanks for posting this. As a PR person myself, it always amazes me that so many PR people are so thin-skinned, even though we frequently have to counsel clients to enjoy and build upon the positive press and learn from the bad.

I'm also glad that you posted the good things about good PR people. Like any industry, there are bad people that paint us all in a bad light (and not to mention the awful portrayals on TV, think Sex & The City, Jake in Progress, etc.).

As one of the comments on the Pogue Post mentions, some of the worst PR offenders are at the biggest companies. Unfortunately they don't learn their lessons because every minor piece of news they announce is published, if only out of virtue of their size.

-- Cooper Smith, principal

Cooper Smith Agency, Dallas TX

Posted by: Cooper Smith at February 20, 2007 07:41 PM

As someone who has lived on both sides of the fence - as both a tech PR dude and a reporter/writer, I have ran into very bad PR people who have no idea of what their product or services do, why it is important or why my readers should care.

On the other hand, wearing my PR hat, I have worked with numerous reporters and editors who only cover the BIG stories and maybe because of editorial pressures and time crunches, never have the energy to cover and explore the smaller and unique stories.

Interestingly, I often find that it is the less experienced editors, reporters and writers who are the rudest and hardest to work with. The guys and gals who have been in the editorial biz a long time seem to be a lot more patient and are willing to help discover the nuggets that are of interest to their readers.

Some younger editors also seem to have the "hey I am cool because I am a journalist" syndrome which also can make them a bit more difficult to work with. It is a bit ironic but the more experienced an editor/writer is, at least in my experience, the more humble and friendly they seem to be.

Posted by: Mark Shapiro at March 14, 2007 01:43 PM

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