PR’s and journalists – are we really that unprofessional?

Our level of professionalism is something I query every now and then. In particular when it comes to what is called “press contacts” in my line of business.

Let me explain with an example:

I am at interview (always there it happens) and the prospective employer asks me: Whom do you know at FT/the Economist/Computer World… (just pick your favourite news outlet).

The thinking being that as long as you know a journalist at these outlets your news will get printed. Seriously? Are we that unprofessional? Are journalists? Personally I am convinced that if a piece of news is of interest for that outlet, or rather its readers, it will get printed whether I know that journalist or not. OK, I understand that from a purely human angle it is easier to speak with, and listen too, someone you know – at least in a professional capacity – than a complete stranger. After all we’re only human, but evaluating if content are news worthy or not, surely that’s independent of personal ties?

It is my job as PR/Communications to explain to the eager person on my side of the fence that Yes, this is a completely new product it is of interest. No, bug fix number 1055 is not of interest even if it took you six months to fix it.

And I remain strong in my belief that if I indeed get to “know” the journalist, the outlet and its readers i.e. understand what triggers them and what they find interesting in what I might provide them with they will listen. Maybe not publish, I get that, but at least listen.

I must say that I find the approach above deplorable and unprofessional both concerning us as PR/Communicators and concerning journalists.

Or am I naïve?

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