I love blog series that involve interviews, mainly because they get a great reception and I meet some pretty fab people through them too.
So, when I thought of the idea of interviewing journalists to quiz them on the taboo topic of PR & journo relationships, I was keen to get stuck in. I also have another series in the pipeline, where I’ll be interviewing influencers, but at the moment I’m focused on this one which has picked up a much bigger response rate already. (Just FYI, like).
About this series
‘This one’, by the way, should be better known as #CutThroughTheNoise.
Namely, because there’s a lot of wishy-washy opinions and articles around PR to press relationships, and I’d rather ‘cut through the noise’, or rather the bullshit, and get down to the nitty-gritty. I want to ask the difficult questions and face the issue head-on as opposed to dodging it, which so often happens in this industry.
I think both PRs and journalists could learn a lot from my #CutThroughTheNoise series. There seem to be recurring problematic things that PRs are doing to blacklist themselves with certain journalists. And in the same breath, PRs have their fair share of niggles with journos too – and these need to be addressed. I’m a big advocate of building great relationships, and I feel as though this can’t always be done while there’s a stigma surrounding public relations and journalism. Therefore, in this series, I’m hoping to challenge that. To cut through the stereotypes and be rid of them for good.
If you’re a journalist, and you’d like to take part in this series then I’m always open to hearing from you. The best way to reach me is probably Twitter, so please do message me for a chat. My DMs are open, but it’s likely I’ll be following you anyway. 😂.
May I steal your attention for a moment…
I’ve been nominated for a UK Blog Award for best PR blogger, and would love it if you could vote for me (that is if you like my blog and think I’m worthy of course!). Here’s how if you’d like to.
- Click here.
- Click on the categories (Public Relations, Marketing and Communications is mine) and view the entries.
- To find my website, click on the globe.
- To see my entry information, click on the “i”.
- And to vote for my entry (please please please), click on the red heart.
- OR, you could go straight to my entry page here.
Thank you so very much. Now back to the blog…
#CutThroughTheNoise – with David Spencer
So, my first interview was with radio journalist, David Spencer. Who heads up news at TalkSPORT, talkRADIO and Virgin Radio. I was, and still am, so honoured to have David take part in this little blog series, and feel as though I’ve learned a lot from what he had to say already.
First off, let’s learn a little bit more about him…
Name: David Spencer
Type of journalist: Head of News – Radio
Publications: talkSPORT, talkRADIO, Virgin radio
How long have you been a journalist?: 25 years
And now, let’s get down to the interview…
Jessica: Hi David, thanks for agreeing to chat with me today. I’m so honoured to feature you in my series! Okay, the first question I have is how often do you work with PRs every day in your job?
David: I get about 30 to 40 emails a day from PRs and speak to them on an almost daily basis.
Jessica: And do you feel like you generally have a good relationship with PR people?
Jessica: Okay, let’s go straight in with the blunt questions… Is there anything that PRs do that really get on your nerves?
David: The worst thing in radio is sending a press release which you chase and then they inform you there’s no one available for an interview. If you’re sending out a PR – ensure someone is able to speak for the day before and the day of the release as TV and Radio record things the day before.
Jessica: And what about on the flip side… Is there anything that PRs do that you really appreciate?
David: Understanding the differences between platforms is key. Good PRs know what radio needs and TV etc. Getting good speakers lined up to react and offering case studies is also really useful.
Jessica: Fab! Thanks so much. So what’s your general perception of the relationship between journalists and PR people?
David: A sweeping statement would be – journalists think PRs are useless. That’s not completely true BUT often a PR is looking for something different than a journalist and that can create conflict.
Jessica: Completely fair! And something I hear quite often actually… Okay let me ask you, do you have any notable experiences with a PR people that just make you think… What!?
David: A common one is PRs sending photos to the radio. Not very useful in this medium!
Jessica: Oh gosh, yeah that completely misses the mark. Okay, let’s talk about sending content to the radio then. What’s your opinion on PRs calling journalists to follow up on a press release if it’s for broadcast?
David: It’s their job.
Jessica: I suppose that’s true when you’re dealing with radio press, as mainly what’s sent to you is current news, right! Okay then, with that in mind, what’s your opinion on PRs emailing journalists to follow up on a press release?
David: I think it’s best to call. Emails are just going to get deleted. But journalists broadly would say send an email.
Jessica: That makes sense! The majority of journalists prefer an email I’m finding, but when you work in radio – it’s different, isn’t it?! Moving on, what makes you more inclined to open a pitching email, or to look at a press release?
David: A good headline – engaging prospect for content. Something relevant to our platforms/output.
Jessica: Great! Okay, to finish up what’s one piece of advice you’d give to PRs for communicating with journalists?
David: Understand their job. Be empathetic but also understand their audience. Trying to pitch ideas that do not fit is a waste of time. Do your research.
My top 3 takeaways
There’s tonnes of great stuff above, and I’m so grateful towards David for all the insightful information. However, let’s break it down into my top 3 takeaways.
- Trying to pitch ideas that do not fit is a waste of time, do your research before pitching to a journalist and make sure that your story fits their expertise.
- Don’t offer things you can’t follow up on. It just strengthens the stereotype that all PRs are liars (and we’re not!).
- Sending photos to the radio is never a good idea!
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