33 things the media wish PR people knew

From ditching jargon to priorities to deadlines, understanding these essentials will help you—both of you—the next time you’re working with a reporter.


The media want to cover your organization and its goings-on. Problem is, they have limited resources and need your help putting together a compelling story.

For everyone to succeed, you need to know some things. Here are 33 of them:

1. That not everything your organization does is newsworthy.

2. That a press release, though still a useful outreach tool, is rarely enough on its own.

3. How to think like a reporter.

4. That they’re often (maybe usually) overworked and underpaid.

5. That they’re active on social networks.

6. Their deadlines.

7. Not to contact them near these deadlines.

8. That multimedia messaging—videos, photos, etc.—helps them understand what you’re trying to say.

9. The medium through which they like to receive pitches.

10. How to write a compelling email subject line.

11. That you should help them with something before asking them to cover you.

12. That jargon confuses readers (and, often, reporters).

13. That sometimes, even if you pitch perfectly, you get no coverage.

14. That corporate messaging goals and good journalism are often at odds.

15. How to create and use a social media release.

16. That bloggers aren’t journalists (except when journalists blog).

17. That citizens aren’t photojournalists simply because Twitpic, Instagram, and Yfrog enable them to snap and share pictures quickly and easily.

18. How to write a useful, jargon- and fluff-free press release.

19. That the media are the filter, not the enemy.

20. That they’ll sometimes behave like a pack of sheep.

21. The importance of displaying your contact info in a clear and easy to find way.

22. That they make mistakes.

23. That they are inundated with bad and useless PR pitches.

24. The value of transparency.

25. That the news relevance and value of a story pitch must be spelled out clearly.

26. That their beats change and they’re forced to learn new things very quickly.

27. That there are slow periods of the year, during which your not-so-newsworthy pitch might get play.

28. That sometimes the busy-ness of journalism means big delays in replying to you.

29. That leaving insightful blog comments and sharing their content makes them extra happy.

30. That saying thanks is, and always will be, appreciated.

31. That tough interview questions are not personal attacks.

32. That spin is downright annoying.

33. The vital importance of saying it quickly and clearly.

Do you have anything to add?

A version of this story appeared on the author’s blog.

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