The relationship between PR pros and journalists is too often adversarial. It doesn’t have to be. Especially in an era of newsroom cutbacks where both sides need each other more than ever.
I’ll never forget the “PR manual” that was in my desk when I started my second management job.
One of the pearls of wisdom it contained related to thanking reporters. It said something like, “Be careful about thanking journalists. Never make a reporter feel as though they’ve done you a favour when they cover you.”
The concept of making someone feel that they’ve done you a favour is nebulous. However, the tone of the “PR manual” I refer to was definitely in keeping with the school of the thought that views all media as “the enemy.”
To quote the oh-so-smart John Parisella, “the media is not your enemy or your friend, the media is the filter.”
What this means is that there is nothing wrong with saying thanks.
- If a journalist has had to go out of their way and rearrange their schedule so they could interview your spokesperson, should they not be thanked once a story appears?
- If a reporter began with a one sided perspective and came to you because they felt the need to produce a balanced report, should you not at least tell them “I appreciate your desire to be fair.”
- If they run your website on screen, in print or mention it over the air should you not express gratitude?
You’re in PR. It’s a relationship game. Say thanks. Doesn’t mean you gotta kiss ass, but don’t forget it.
This is especially true right now. The media industry is in a state of flux and journalists are worked to the bone. It’s a stressful time and they’re human.