I have been writing for print and online publications for over 20 years, and I am always on the lookout for great sources for my articles. I also spent several years (more) doing pubic relations (PR) on both the agency side and for a variety of businesses and have an excellent track record of getting my clients cited by reporters. So I am intimately familiar with what it takes to get a reporter’s (or writer’s) attention.
Yet I am constantly amazed — and annoyed — by how many PR people, especially in the modern digital age, when finding out the names of reporters, the areas they cover, and what they are working on, has never been easier, waste my time.
11 Ways to Piss Off a Reporter (and ensure she will never quote your clients)
1. Don’t bother to Google the reporter, to find out what she writes about — or actually read any of her articles (even though they are easy to find and plentiful).
2. Add the reporter to your email list without her permission and bombard her with emails and press releases that have nothing to do with the beat(s) she covers.
3. Do not follow the reporter on Twitter. (Because if you did, you would know what she was working on.)
4. Do not look for her queries on Help a Reporter.
5. Repeatedly email the reporter to ask what she is working on. (See above.)
6. Ask the reporter to ping you whenever she is working on an article — even though chances are you will be working with different clients or at a different agency six months from now (or less).
7. Pitch her ideas that have nothing to do with her beat(s). (See above.)
8. Send replies to her Help a Reporter queries that have nothing to do with her query — and/or clearly demonstrate that you, the PR person, have not taken the time (less than 5 minutes) to read any of the reporter’s articles.
9. Send an angry or whiny email to the reporter questioning why she didn’t quote your client in her article.
10. Do not thank the reporter for including your client in one of her articles.
11. Do not promote the article on social media. (FYI: Many, probably most, writers these days get paid based on the number of page views their articles get. So we really appreciate when sources and PR folks publicize articles on social media and put links to the article on their websites.)
Also, be sure to read “How to Pitch to a Reporter (and Get Good Press for Your Business or Client).”
[…] I got tired of explaining to people how to pitch to a reporter, so I wrote a brief how-to on the subject years ago. I also wrote a blog post titled “How Not to Piss Off a Reporter“. […]
I LOVE this article, just printed it to give out to my college students. Thanks for sharing the link in your email, Jennifer!
Sorry, Jennifer, that you have to keep referring some of my colleagues in PR to this article. This should be common knowledge by folks in our profession. Thank you for the understanding that we’re not all like the folks who led to you compiling this list.