By Sarrah Case
In our blog page you can find our letter to Santa with a wish list from a PR pro’s point of view. It spurred quite a few discussions both online and in person. Possibly because many of those wishes were shared by other people in the comms industry. And because the list resonated with those called out in that letter. This time, following a number of online discussions where journalists shared their views on some PR professionals, we want to share another list: one that outlines what the journalists, bloggers and analysts we work with do, that we really appreciate. And some things we don’t 😉 Read on to find out our yays and nays.
Feedback is good, whatever it is: whether it’s on a great (or not–so–great!) briefing, a press release you found interesting, or how we handled your request. When we know that something works, we can let clients know, and also share that information internally to help us work ever better with you and be the best agency we can. And since there is always room for improvement, feedback about how you like to work with us really is invaluable.
It’s a small world: many of us have been in this industry for a long time and we all know each other. We know that in the press rooms at trade shows and conferences (online ones alas at the moment) we’ll be seeing familiar faces and even when people move jobs and companies, they never really go far. Opportunities for networking and relationship–building are important for everyone as you can build deep and useful connections with contacts who will come in very handy in the future. When there’s mutual respect and an effort to get to know each other everyone benefits, and this can make a meeting much more valuable and pleasant too. So for the friendliness, the jokes and your general ‘nice–guys and gals’ attitudes, thank you.
Telling us what you want: being open about your likes and best–practise preferences is a hit with us. We know that you want the strongest story and in–depth information, hence why we always aim to get you briefings that deliver just that, with the most relevant spokespeople. Everyone has their preferred MO however, and what works for some people might not work for others, whether it’s a sheer dislike of WebEx or choosing not to use Outlook calendar entries. It’s good to be open. We listen to your preferences and make sure the whole A3 Communications team is aware of them to make our relationships with you as efficient and enjoyable as they can be. After all we do spend the vast majority of our working days speaking to you!
Fail to prepare…: when you attend a briefing, whether in person or over the phone, it’s really good to see that you’re prepared and have researched the company, the spokesperson, and the subject. As you no doubt know, having you primed with specific knowledge and ask insightful questions makes each briefing unique and it gets you information that you might otherwise not yield from the interviewer. Don’t think that all your hard work and reading beforehand goes unnoticed – it doesn’t and it’s really appreciated.
Bonjour! Guten Tag! Ola! Hallå! And Hallo! For most of you based in continental Europe, English isn’t your first language. But many spokespeople from companies based in the UK or the US are monoglots, or might not speak your native language fluently enough to entertain holding a briefing in it. So whether your first language is French, German, Italian, Urdu or anything else, thank you so much for agreeing to carry out briefings in English, even though it’s not as easy for you.
So. Generally we really enjoy working with bloggers, analysts and press. You are friendly, professional and one of the reasons why we love our job. But of course, it’s not all sweetness and light and sometimes we have to reach out for one of the many stress balls that have gathered on our desks over the years because…
Maybe, maybe not: not committing to briefings or trips (back in the day!) until the last minute. Of course we’re all busy, but when meetings involve clients paying for expensive flights, or even paying for the media to attend an event, it’s essential to plan in advance. Being late in responding to an invitation or being vague about your availability often results in expensive changes.
Ghosting: I know that everyone finds it rude and very trying when there’s an email exchange going on and suddenly… dead air. And it happens on both sides of the fence we’ve heard of PR people suddenly doing a Houdini. It doesn’t happen often, but when it does – maddening. Whether you can no longer make the date, or are coming down with something, if we know what’s going on, we can draw a line under the exchange and move on to the next item on the agenda. Win–win!
Unfashionably late: being late is something I try and avoid. In all areas of my life, I hate being tardy and it frustrates me in others, and when it happens at briefings, I find that it’s not only rude, it also looks unprofessional. Again, we all know that it’s sometimes unavoidable and that’s fine. The key is once again in the communication. A quick text or a call to update on progress and let us know is all it takes, and we can manage it from there! If it’s an in-person meeting (remember those?) we’ll also have a cup of coffee on the table, waiting for you when you arrive!
Better late than never: being late, however, is nothing compared to the inconvenience of non–shows when we haven’t been warned. While something can come up that will lead to the meeting being missed, having to apologise to a client for the contact’s seeming lack of professionalism because they failed to show up without warning us isn’t something we relish. If you suddenly can’t make a briefing, let us know – we can reschedule your meeting, re–allocate the time and the resources and voila’ – crisis averted! And this is why we like to offer to put meetings in your diary ourselves – that way we know you have it scheduled and that all the details are at your fingertips, including our email addresses!
Fail to prepare…: as mentioned earlier, when a writer comes to a briefing well prepared, with relevant questions and comments, it makes the discussion much more valuable for everyone involved. On the other hand, when there’s been no preparation, and the reaction the spokesperson gets is a blank look or poor questions the discussion rarely results in a unique story (this is of course assuming the spokesperson is providing relevant, useful, clear information. But that subject could warrant a whole blog post by itself). We send out materials beforehand – whether it’s the latest press release, datasheets or presentations so that the briefing can be as dynamic and interesting as possible for both parties. If you’d like to receive something different do let us know and we’ll source it for you, in advance, so you can take a look and get much more out of the meeting.
Money talks? Finally, those blurred lines between editorial integrity and advertising budgets – hmm. At A3 Communications we always encourage our clients to spend their budgets on outlets that separate those aspects of the business, because we know that those publications are more credible to their readers, and any coverage is based on merit and not a commercial agreement.
So there we are - it must be said that the vast majority of our contacts in the media, blogging and analyst camps are found ticking the first list in this post. Over the past 20–odd years we have come across some extremely friendly people in the industry, some of which have become personal friends.
Now - this relationship–building stuff: anyone up for discussing it over a drink? How about we put on another #StorageBeers, maybe over Zoom?