Guest Post: Stand up to your client

Carol Sunnucks This guest post comes from Carol Sunnucks, a senior corporate communications director based in Glendale, Arizona. Prior to working in corporate communications,  Carol was a journalist for over twenty years.

 

I know this may seem rudimentary to most of us, but I was reminded of it today and thought I’d take a moment to bring it up since I’m sure most of you come across this topic frequently with your clients. Whether you call them news releases or press releases and whether you take a more traditional or Web 2.0 approach, the objective of putting one out is in the name: news/press. We issue them to get journalists to write about the topics we are pitching. PERIOD.

But our clients get crazy sometimes and can’t help themselves from seizing the opportunity to pontificate about things journalists couldn’t care less about — and to make matters worse, they do so by highjacking all of the quotes, that should be dedicated to valuable, newsworthy content.

Case in point: (I’ll leave out names to protect the innocent)

“{{Insert company name here}} would like to take this opportunity to thank the {{Insert organization’s name here}} for its generous funding of the {{bla, bla bla}}We are equally thrilled to have the opportunity to {{bla, bla, bla}},” says {{Insert name here}}, the person who put it all together and deserves all the credit.

If your clients are asking you to do that and you don’t stop them, then you should be fired and look for a new career. It’s our jobs as public relations representatives to get their stories published. And the only way to accomplish that is to give journalists real news and hold the fluff. There isn’t a reputable news organization on the planet who would publish a quote like that. And by including it in your news release, you diminish your credibility with your media contacts, and you severely increase the likelihood of it going in the trash.

So when you have to stand up to your clients on these issues, make that clear. Ask them straight up if they want to thank everyone or if they want the publicity. If the answer is the publicity, then ask them to let you do your job. If the answer is the other, then buy them some thank you notes, and save them a ton of money on your fees.

One Response to “Guest Post: Stand up to your client”

  1. Tony Felice - March 3rd, 2009

    We are hearing from many reporters that 1) they prefer shorter pitches that are on topic, relevant and compelling and 2) they don’t want or do they care about quotes. I’m talking about big media not small community papers who may run a press release verbatim. Big media reporters get tons of emails a day, you have about 8 seconds to capture their attention.

    I prefer my pitch to be structured:

    Twitter pitch:

    Summary:

    Fast Facts:

    And be no more than a few paragraphs TOPS.

    [Reply]

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