Now look, this post isn’t to whine or point the finger, blame or even bad mouth. You know that’s not my style. But I want to point out what not to do when you’re working with media, whether you are a business owner, consultant or public relations expert.
Frankly, what I’m about to share with you is, while creative, it’s cheeky and shifty, and it didn’t leave me with the warm and fuzzies.
While I applaud this PR for her creative spark and thinking outside the box when pitching to the media, in my opinion, this tactic won’t win you any friends, nor will it build a relationship with editors and journos.
So this week, we receive an email over at Get it HQ (the super gorgeous mag I edit) from a wannabe contributor. We love it when contribs get in touch because most times we can work with them in some capacity.
This woman wanted to contribute with guest posts to our site and offered up some cool fashion story ideas – great! Perfect pitch. We get these types of emails all the time – and it’s also something I tell my clients they should be doing.
No problem there.
Until we asked her for some more information about herself…these emails usually have a portfolio or links to writing work, or something of that nature. But, nothing with this pitch; only a gmail address. No email signature. Nothing.
Then the grand plan unravels. She told us she was a PR specialist for a fashion house and she would love to contribute to our mag, and of course it wouldn’t be all about the brand she worked for, it would be information our readers would love. That may be so.
Now, I said it was creative, and I applaud her for her creativity, I do. But I don’t know about you, I’d prefer someone to just say – “Hey, I’m a PR/consultant/biz owner and I have some cool content on <insert topic here> … can I send you guest post on the Top 10 ways <finish off this sentence however you like here>.
I’d be much more open to that than someone masquerading a contributing writer when clearly they are not, and they are only trying to spruik the company they work for. Fair enough, that’s their job.
I’ve always maintained a good relationship with the media should be your first step when it comes to public relations. Once you are friendly with a journo and you are helpful, they’ll be more open to working with you in the future. Not only that, you will find they get in touch with you when there’s a hole to fill or they need a source for a story or some pic quotes, or imagery. You want to be in their little black book. There’s only one way to get into that little black book and that’s to build trust. You don’t want to be on the outer because you started the relationship off on the wring foot. Trust me, you won’t get far. Simply be honest and state your intentions.
Now don’t get me wrong, I love working with PRs, they are the best. Many of my friends are public relations specialists…heck, I’ll be employing the services of one in the near future too. I work with them and work for me. That’s not my issue at all. As a journo, they can be a huge help when you need to find certain products to showcase for a themed edition, or you need a story on <insert whatever wacky topic you can think of in here>. There’s always someone who can help. It’s a fact, journos need PRs just as much as PRs need journos. Having worked on both sides of the fence, I see both arguments. But there’s still a fine line. Journos want what’s best for their readers and PRs want what’s best for their clients. This is a mutual understanding between the two of us.
If you want to do a guest post just say so. Be upfront. It will get you a lot further than being what I perceive to be as shifty, albeit creative.