A while back, I was having a chat with a reporter buddy of mine, and he started a conversation about the public relations industry and PR professionals he works with on a regular basis. He said it is frustrating the number of times he receives pitches about stories he has already covered and how they were unaware of what he has written.
I just looked at him and said I was not surprised. If you are a PR professional and you have read this far into this blog entry, let’s have a quick show of hands. How many of you honestly read the print version of your daily newspapers and regional publications including free weeklies and business journals? And be honest – don’t just include the times you read a story where your client has been mentioned.
I understand the convenience of getting your news, even from a newspaper, online and tablet. But, quite honestly, there is a strong value and responsibility to our clients to be fully aware of EVERYTHING that a paper has to offer. A large percentage of the populace, especially older readers and those with disposable income, still read the print edition.
To me, it is a PR professional’s best friend for several reasons:
- Placement. You have an awareness of where various stories are placed, getting an idea of their importance and value to both the editorial team of the publication, as well as the community it serves.
- Awareness of all reporters. In addition to being up-to-date with what various reporters are writing about, you can also get an idea of new reporters, changes in beat coverage, as well as awareness of whose stories happen to make the front page in a given week.
- Conversation fodder. If there is a story you thoroughly enjoyed, AND it didn’t include your client, it lets reporters know you read their stories and can give them true appreciation for their craft. Too often, we only see praise of reporters when they write about clients. How many times have you seen an agency or PR professional tweet out something like this, “GREAT article by Blah Blah about The Great Thing My Client Is Doing!” Where is the sincerity in that? What makes the article great? That it was about your client?
- Awareness of industries and competitors. By reading everything a paper has to offer, you are putting yourself in a position to obtain more knowledge about various industries and companies that you might one day work with in the future. That keen awareness of their news can sometimes make or break their impression of you if you know your facts about them.
- Connections. You become aware of movers and shakers in a community and can recognize their name more often.
- Advertising. You also have an idea of which companies have aggressive advertising budgets for print. They could be looking to complement those efforts with PR campaigns, as well.
I understand what many people might be thinking about — how this is possible online. But it is more difficult to see the entire placement, as well as the flow that only a print edition so uniquely offers.
I am surprised more PR professionals don’t read the paper more. My love of telling stories was my inspiration for a PR career in the first place.
Now, when I speak to college students studying communications, I am shocked when I ask about who reads the paper. Virtually, no one does. I feel as PR professionals, we have an obligation to be aware of our media – print, online, television, radio and other outlets.