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Posted on 07.29.2010

Don’t Take It Personally: Media Relations Can Be a Brutal Business

Salespeople aren’t the only ones who have to make “cold calls.” In the PR world, we have to pick up the phone everyday and talk to the media…busy people who are often frantically working on a deadline…doesn’t that sound like fun! I used to think if I adhered to Media Relations 101 and pitched a reporter a newsworthy story that fit their beat, it would be worth their time to listen. But, hey, reporters are no different than the rest of us and they are entitled to a bad day. At the other end of that bad day, we’ve received some entertaining responses over the years. Situation: A serious infection is consuming the country and my client released the fastest test on the market that can ultimately save lives. I call a reporter who consistently covered the infection outbreak for a solid month. Response: “Seriously, do you know how many PR people call me every day hoping I will write about their client. I don’t care if this test saves lives, I’m not giving a company free advertising. You guys exhaust me!” (Note, this “well-respected” reporter called me two days later and apologized for her outburst caused by lack of caffeine that morning.) Situation: We read in the local newspaper that a local company “might” be expanding into China. We assume if the reporter thinks just the possibility of overseas expansion is news then surely it’s newsworthy that our local client has just opened an office in Australia. Response: “Don’t call me about companies opening businesses outside of Nashville…we don’t cover companies that are expanded outside our city.” (We wanted to say…”Have you READ your newspaper this morning?!") You know the old saying “there’s no crying in baseball.” Well, there’s also no crying in PR, so we take things on the chin and move on. If you’ve had a funny experience, please let me know. I can always use the comic relief.

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