I spent seven years as a p.r. guy at a small college. I had the best benefits of my life and the worst working conditions. It's where I developed stress-related conditions and diabetes. However I did my job well because I understood how the press works and what they need.
I'm very sympathetic to p.r. people and the ones that really want to work with you are worth their weight in gold. And I extend quite a bit of patience to the folks who are chosen by their church, club or non-profit to be the volunteer p.r. person.
I'm griping about the pros who should know better. I wish that many of the p.r. people who e-mail me, fax me, send me press releases by mail and then phone me could understand the following points:
1. Know the needs of the publication. I've got five publications I manage and write for. They have specific content needs. Please go to our web site and figure a few things out before you call me and ask me to cover something in Boston, over 70 miles away.
(By the way, please understand that an entire state does not revolve around its capitol, even if it's nick-named "The Hub.")
2. Please don't send me the same release all the ways possible. I hate plowing through the pile of stuff that gathers every day only to see the same thing repeated over and over.
3. Don't send multiple copies of the same release to me because there is more than one publication. Read the address!
4. Don't get mad when I tell you I can't speak to you about your release when I'm on a writing or lay-out deadline. I'm not snubbing you, honest.
5. Don't send us a release about a product unless you're prepared to send a sample of the product. If you want a story, then you have to send us the item.
6. Don't send me press advisories the day of an event. Even dailies need to plan ahead to make the best use of their resources. Weeklies are even under more pressure. Give us a week, please. Unless, of course, it's breaking news. Then, tell me early in the day.
7. Don't expect me to be a tear-sheet service. If I can delegate that task to someone I will, but having the story on the web site is proof of publication.
8. Play fair. Tell all the media at the same time about a story. Playing favorites will earn you no points, unless I'm the favorite.
9. Don't send me a clipping from another local paper and tell me I should run a story. I won't.
10. Give me a call and ask me questions about how to work together. I'm happy to discuss that with folks. Feel free to staple a $20 bill to your releases or wrap them around a nice cigar. That will cement the bonds for sure!
11. Pay no attention to the efforts of my evil side to suggest bribing me with money or tobacco. It's the fatigue talking.
© 2006 by Gordon Michael Dobbs who is solely responsible for the content of this column.