Six Ways PR Flacks Piss Off Journalists By chris 11/18/2013 Share Tweet + The life of a journalist is hard. PR flacks and spokespeople only make it harder. PR flacks are a necessary evil in the world of journalism. They are the gatekeepers to public officials, business leaders, and celebrities. In order to have access to these people, journalists have to play nice to PR flacks. Journalists’ disdain for PR folks is rooted in the fact that they seemingly make journalists’ lives harder (and make more money, work better hours, and don’t have a boss who has a b.o. problem). Here are six ways PR flacks make journalists’ lives harder: They don’t understand deadlines Journalists are convinced PR folks live in a world where clocks only chime when it’s 5 p.m. They also seemingly live in a world where stories can be held until a source is good and ready to talk. PR flacks just don’t seem to understand journalists are constantly working under a deadline. When a journalist says his deadline is 4 p.m., he doesn’t mean 4-ish or whenever you can get back to him. He means 4 p.m. Worthless press releases If journalists had a $1 for every worthless press release that clogged their email or inbox, they would be able to move out of that crappy apartment and get off that Ramen Noodle diet. Worthless press releases include press releases without the crucial information - a contact number, a time of the event, address, or a press release that doesn’t pertain to that particular journalist. Journalists also love those wordy three-age press releases that bury the critical information. Last-minute events Despite the popular notion that journalists sit at the their desks just waiting for a PR flack to call, journalists are busy juggling four stories, calling sources, responding to emails, and avoiding the chatty receptionist in the newsroom. PR people think it’s completely fine to call a journalist and let them know about a press event that starts in five minutes. It’s these kind of things that make journalists curse at just the thought of PR folks. Acting as a go-between Too many PR flacks treat journalists like they have the plague. They forbid any direct interaction between a journalist and their employer. Journalists hate when a PR flack says, “Email me your questions and I’ll email you his responses.” If journalists wanted a flack to answer their questions, they would have sent their questions to the monkey at the zoo. They want to talk to your employer, not you. Telling a journalist how to write a story There’s a difference between pitching a story and telling a journalist how to write one - the latter will get you blacklisted. Journalists are super protective about their writing. Journalists don’t even let husbands, wives, parents, or life-long friends give input on their stories. What makes PR flacks think journalists want their input? Journalists definitely don’t want to hear, “I would write it this way . . . ” Consider journalists as colleagues PR folks like to think the relationship between them and journalists is a symbiotic relationship. Journalists view their relationship with PR folks more as a parasitic relationship. Ok, that’s too harsh, but it’s definitely not a relationship where journalists view PR folks as peers. Journalists think of their profession as one that protects and defends free speech and democracy. Journalists view PR work akin to selling cotton candy at a baseball game. Journalists will never respect PR folks as much as other journalists, or at least not until they go into PR.