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Dear Journo...

Dear Journalist / Media Person, This letter has been a long time coming. For eons now, you have had the platform to belittle, insult, name-and-shame, and in general be disrespectful towards Public Relations professionals. You have held yourself on a pedestal, while you have called us "scum". I would like to clarify a few of those misconceptions.
The first thing that we need to get straight is that this is a mutually beneficial relationship. This is by no means a one-sided relationship whereby PR practitioners simply beg for coverage. The system is simple and clear, we provide content and you provide coverage, and we have the clippings to prove this. Strong story angles, access to influential thought leaders, as well as exclusives and announcements are all provided by us. And this isn't a case of us being annoying "gate-keepers" as we are the ones contacting you with the opportunities, rather than the other way round.

Secondly, the media elite will no longer exist, as Rupert Murdoch so eloquently put it. We have access to citizen journalists, blogs and our owned media. This isn't to say that you aren't needed, as you definitely are, but it's about the attitude that comes with the title. It's unnecessary and over the top. You also make mistakes; whether they are typos or grammatical errors, and this happens often, just ask anyone who reads.

It's just common courtesy

Also - if you RSVP positively to an event, please pitch up. It's just common courtesy, and your time is no more important than anyone else's. As one editor recently advised PR people "Don't make promises you can't keep"... the same goes here. Simply not arriving is a cardinal sin in any society, on any level, as it's just plain rude.

Recently a media publication published a tribute to South Africa's top media people under the age of 40 years. Not one PR person was on this list. It came as a stab in the heart, as I personally have contributed many articles to this publication. If a person who buys and sells advertising space can be listed then surely people involved in the public relations field can be? Digital professionals were named, yet when PR people pushed digital PR all those years ago, it seemed to hold no weight?

Don't tar everyone with the same brush

And every industry has its bad apple. Too often, you have grouped all PR people in the same boat, and so if you get one email that is not targeted to the correct person, then we are all incompetent. This simply isn't true, just as not all journalists have the same disrespect for PR people. The point is, if I have a bad experience in a restaurant, or in a shop, I do not lambaste the entire industry. What I will do is bring it up with the relevant people in order for it to be rectified. For example, if you get a bad email, targeting the wrong person and publication, then simply send a return email to the relevant senior person. I am not asking you to sort out the riffraff, but if I go to a restaurant, and do not make it my duty to complain to the manager about bad service, then how will I ever expect things to change?

Now I don't want to be hypocritical, and I am completely aware that not all journalists are like this. This letter is addressed to those that are openly disrespectful towards PR people, as if we don't hold a place in society. I have studied and worked hard, just like you and I do not appreciate it when you damage the reputation of an industry that can say 100% that they have contributed to the media landscape. We help build brands, grow profit margins, and provide information that the public needs to know, and therefore deserve the same respect as anyone else within this sector.

Kind Regards,
Lucinda
    
 

About Lucinda Boddy

Lucinda Boddy is MD of Livewired Public Relations
    Peta Krost Maunder
    Aah Lucinda, I am sorry you didn't make it onto the Top 40 under 40s. The truth is, we did our homework and our judging panel very carefully weighed up every person on the shortlist. We take the the Top 40 very seriously at The Media magazine and, until now, we have not selected people according to what sector of the media they are in but what they have achieved in our industry.
    I agree with you that there are some PR people who really make a difference to our industry and a handful who I personally hold in extremely high esteem.
    I know you say that you have contributed to The Media but I certainly don't recall that in the time I have edited it (since 2010).
    Just for clarity, contributing to The Media magazine has nothing to do with the selection of the Top 40 under 40s.
    Having said that, you do make some very valid points in your piece.
    Posted on 19 Jun 2014 21:33
    Lucinda Boddy
    Thanks Peta. The issue wasn't that I personally wasn't on the list, but rather that not one PR person under 40 was listed. With regards to the contributions to The Media Online, there are approximately 10 thought leadership articles / opinion pieces from myself, I am not sure about the The Media print version. And I totally understand that simply contributing will not get you on the list, but rather my point was that if the thoughts of a PR person are contributing to this publication (whether the print or online version) then it means we have a place in this arena.
    Posted on 20 Jun 2014 12:21
    Andrea Slater
    A conversation should be started here... and Lucinda should be proud she had the goetspa to try and kick it off.
    Posted on 20 Jun 2014 07:57
    Lucinda Boddy
    Thanks Andrea!
    Posted on 20 Jun 2014 12:12
    Gerard Smit
    Lucinda, where do you come from with this very aggressive tone towards all journalists. It is all about professionalism. One of the many common things that journalists and PRs share is the problem of "posers". How many PRs and journos have no proper qualification to support their craft? Then there is the problem of conducting yourself as a true professional with the necessary ethics and relevant code of conduct.
    Posted on 20 Jun 2014 18:08
    Lucinda Boddy
    Hi Gerard, it clearly states in my article "I am completely aware that not all journalists are like this. This letter is addressed to those that are openly disrespectful towards PR people". One of the most recent articles I read was titled "to the Pr's I loathe" which was written by a South African editor. There are many more like this, and this article is clearly directed at them.
    Posted on 21 Jun 2014 12:56
    Edward Chamberlain-Bell
    The advantage of this article, despite extreme generalizations, is that has created a valuable dialogue. Media& PR have mutually beneficial relationship whereby we all benefit from the sharing of content & coverage. Ideally we should be building long-term relationships that are mutually beneficial and add value to each other. A long lasting business relationship shouldn't leave media feeling like a one-night stand. Some PR companies are very gracious to get media exposure but the relationship ends there, until they need future exposure, and the schmoozing cycle begins all over again.

    I also wish PR would target me with the right content. My show is about fine dining & travel ~ I don’t want to talk about frozen dinners & baby food– although I am sure they probably quite yummy, it’s not the kind of content I want for my show. Asking is fine, pestering me is not.

    In defense of the great PR companies out there, some media can afford to be a little more gracious about the hospitality they receive from PR companies. There’s more to PR events than free food & comparing goodie bags.
    Posted on 23 Jun 2014 08:28
    Edward Chamberlain-Bell
    The advantage of this article, despite extreme generalisations, is that has created a valuable dialogue. Media & PR have mutually beneficial relationship whereby all benefit from the sharing of content & coverage. Ideally we should be building long-term relationships that are mutually beneficial and add value to each other. A long lasting business relationship shouldn't leave media feeling like a one-night stand. Some PR companies are very gracious to get media exposure but the relationship ends there, until they need future exposure, and the schmoozing cycle begins all over again.

    I also wish PR would target me with the right content. My show is about fine dining & travel ~ I don’t want to talk about frozen dinners & baby food– although I am sure they probably quite yummy, it’s not the kind of content I want for my show. Asking is fine, pestering me is not.

    In defence of the great PR companies out there, some media can afford to be a little more gracious about the hospitality they receive from PR companies. There’s more to PR events than free food & comparing goodie bags.
    Posted on 23 Jun 2014 08:55
    fck this is an annoying sign in process
    Phenomenal article and long overdue!! Well done, proudly behind you on this one!
    Posted on 23 Jun 2014 17:12
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