Five Reporter Pet Peeves PR Pros Should Avoid

By February 9, 2017Uncategorized

The media landscape is changing. The number of journalists is steadily shrinking and publications are relying more frequently on freelance reporters and vendor-contributed content. In this climate, getting your client’s story in front of the right reporter and into the right publication at the right time has become more difficult than ever. It’s no secret that reporters’ inboxes are overflowing. How do we, as PR pros, stand out?

Last Thursday, a few BOCA-teers had the pleasure of attending a tech media panel hosted by Mindshare PR. The panelists included reporters from the top tech and IT publications, such as eWEEK, InfoWorld, The New Stack, The Register and SDxCentral, who shared what they planned to cover in 2017 and major themes in the data center.

Reporter Pet PeevesEventually, the conversation turned to the dos and don’ts of pitching reporters and how PR pros can put their best foot forward as they manage the relationship between themselves, their clients and the reporter. Our top five takeaways are below:

  1. Don’t oversell things: Not every technology is going to change the world, and that’s okay. Be honest about what your clients’ technology does.
  2. Know your product: Spend time reading your clients’ messaging and understanding how their technologies work. If a reporter asks about a company’s size or funding or whether a product is SaaS or on-premise software, be able to answer those questions.
  3. Don’t hide things: If a reporter is following your client, they’ll catch you, and you and your client could end up on their blacklist. Reporters on the panel specifically called out companies that positioned minor upgrades to a product as being much bigger than they were, and others that didn’t disclose when they were using a licensed technology as the base of their new product or feature. Reporters quickly caught on to the ruse.
  4. Do your homework: Understand what the publication covers and what the reporter might be interested in. If the outlet mostly posts product reviews and how-tos, your big feature story pitch probably isn’t what they’re looking for.
  5. Avoid using jargon and embellishments: This applies to pitches and press releases as well. Just tell reporters what your product does and the business value it provides. Stay away from terms like:
    • “Excited,” “dramatic” and “dynamic”
    • Digital transformation
    • “Best in class,” “first in class”
    • Enterprise-grade

Forming strong relationships with reporters is more important than ever today, especially as more companies vie for the attention of fewer writers. While a few of these media relations faux pas may seem obvious, the reporters on the panel see them every day, and committing even just one of them can damage your (and your client’s) relationship with the reporter. Just like any relationship, the more you get to know reporters and their interests, the better your relationship will be.

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