TOW 13: Ten Ways for PR Professionals to Stop Annoying Journalist!

April 10, 2010

1.      What’ all the HYPE about?

Problem: Journalist can get annoyed when a news release contains hype or in other terms excess words. A journalist receives thousands of news releases a year and is looking for leads on stories they think their public will deem interesting. When a PR professional adds a bunch of hype to their news release it can make it seem commercial-like and therefore not worth the journalist time.

Solution: Know what HYPE is! Look up the definition and read through tips that are posted all over the internet to find what HYPE words are overused. Here are some examples: Twenty most over-used words/terms in PR or The hype word of all hype words (example on HYPE for the medical field).

It might also be a good idea to have another person read over your press release checking for these excess words before sending the release out!

2.       Stop sending too many news releases!!!

Problem: Some PR professional send news releases out for every little event or idea. By over-informing these journalist YOU ARE JUST GETTING ON THEIR NERVES. A journalist job is to publish a good story not to become an advertising agent for your company.

Solution: Send press releases to the journalist that would be interested in your article. If a journalist writes on food and entertainment they are not going to even be interested in your press release about the 5k for the local animal shelter. Keep in mind who the journalist’s audience and make sure your press release is worthy of becoming a story. If you want a large amount of journalist to see your story than put it on an electronic wire service like the following: Business Wire, Marketwire, PR Newswire

3.       Correct formatting is important!

Problem: If your formatting isn’t correct than why should the journalist want to read it? Proper format is out there so that journalist can easily pick up on what the news release is about without having to search for it. Proper formatting also shows the journalist your level of professionalism and if sent improperly a pr professional could damage their future relationship.

Solution: There are LOTS of resources online, in books and in other publications that solely discuss proper formatting of a news release. Take the time to read over them and KNOW them by heart. Also check to see if certain journalist require other editorial requirements before sending out your mass news release. You may have to individualize it for certain journalist.

4.       Writing a good news release is worth the attention to details!

Problem: One of the most common annoyances from journalists is the written content of a news release. Anyone can put words on a paper but having a press release read properly is a skill that takes knowledge and research!

Solution: Just like the solution for “Correct formatting is important!” use the resources that are available, here is an online resource that I found helpful!

62 ways to improve your press releases by Matthew Stibbe

5.       “Trash and Trinkets”

Problem: Many journalist think that “gimmicks” ( promotional items) that often come with media kits and releases are stupid and silly.

Solution: If you still desire to send out promotional item then do it with taste!

“PRWEEK recommends the following guidelines:

  • Make sure there is a “news hook” and a clear connection between the promotional item and the news you are announcing.
  • Try to send items that reporters can use. Otherwise, they may be viewed only as an annoyance that takes up space.
  • Consider creative packaging instead of a promotional item. A brightly colored envelope is likely to be opened before a white one.
  • Think simply. Rather than sending a basketful of items, consider sending one item that represents the message you are trying to convey.”

Taken from Public Relations Writing And Media Techniques by Dennis L. Wilcox

6.       Not meeting deadlines

Problem: PR professionals don’t always follow the deadlines or dates set by the journalist.

Solution: If the journalist or firm says they want to news release two weeks before the event than make sure you make their time requirements important!

7.       Change your image!

We are at a moment of great opportunity for the PR business. In a world of consumer generated content, infinite media choices, lack of trust in traditional institutions, and desire for peer-to-peer learning, we are well suited to be the communications discipline of choice. But there is a huge elephant in the room. The PR business at present lacks the credibility to take that leadership position in communications. Because we are defined by our more controversial professionals, who tend to come from the political or entertainment worlds, we are characterized as spinmeisters and flacks. How can we get out of this stereotyped second-class citizen role?” — Richard Edelman, CEO Edelman PR

Problem: Some journalists think of pr professionals negatively meaning whatever you do is going to annoy them if they dislike you!

Solution: Work on changing their image of PR professionals by working with their guidelines but still getting your point across! Read Amanda Chapel’s article PR\’s Bad PR: The Elephant in the Room to see how professionals can work on changing the PR image.



  1. The most important thing I think PR people need to do when dealing with journalist is to try to always keep a good relationship, be respectful, and above all be thankful. Let them know you appreciate them running your information. If you are able to keep a good relationship it will be easier to get your information in the media and not have as many problems. I worked with someone setting up an event and the kept saying how important it was to be appreciative for everything to run smoothly.

  2. […] 21. TOW 13: by Glisson, Anna, blog […]

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