I read an all too familiar article in PR Week today. PR people gave their thoughts on journos and journos were asked what they thought about us PRs. True to form, the PRs main gripe is that they think journos are rude, arrogant and egotistical. Journos on the other hand think that we send them press releases that aren’t relevant and then pester them for coverage. Were there any positives you ask? Well, journalists did say that not all PRs are a pain in the backside and some do actually bother to check out their publications and the kind of stories they would be interested in. PRs said of their counterparts that they were driven and hard working, oh, and they liked a drink or two. Hardly excessive praise is it? The last comment reminded me of Jeffrey Bernhard, the brilliant Spectator columnist who spent most of his time in Greek Street’s Coach and Horses and slowly drank himself into oblivion. That was a lifetime ago and yet some things it seems never change. Do journos really drink too much these days or is that a clichéd label that they’ve carried around with them since the 50s? I’m not sure. I am sure however that a lot of PR people are over sensitive. Life isn’t all fluffy clouds and people wishing you have a nice day. In a previous life I worked in BT’s complaints office. I spent two years dealing with callers who had problems with their very poor service or received bills that were wrong or too high. They were angry and frustrated and they sounded like they wanted to crawl down the line and throttle me as I tried to placate them and sort out the problem out. They were angry at the system and I was the first person they spoke to, so it all came flooding out. It wasn’t personal and I learned to understand that.
These gripes between PRs and journalists have been going on forever and they haven’t changed. So here’s an idea. How about if PR people did actually do their homework before sending a story to the press and made it much more targeted. How about they count to ten before calling about said story and not taking it personally if they get short shrift. On the other side what about if Journos realize that we are all in the business of communicating news and that PR’s do have a valuable role to play in the whole process. Whether we like it or not we are reliant on each other. The sooner we realize that the sooner we’ll see eye to eye.