Why journalists don’t care


I got the same good question from a couple people after last week’s message.

That was the one where I talked about delivering the opening keynote about pitching at a conference that went on to feature a total of 11 journalists presenting later in the day.

The question was: “How did the journalists react to what you said?” (Thanks Shelby and Tom!)

To be clear, only one was there when I was speaking (the others arrived right before their speeches). She complimented me after (as I did her, she was great). But that’s a sample size of one.

In reality, I don’t ever expect journalists to see things from our perspective. They have enough to worry about. The pressures and ambiguities of PR people aren’t their problem.

In a fluke, one of my very best friends has become a top editor at a major daily. The fluke is that he graduated in PR, had a distinguished and varied PR career, and THEN switched to journalism. Very rare career track (usually it’s the opposite, like me and many of the people in my audiences who started as journalists).

I asked him if he’s more sympathetic to the PR outreach he gets, since he knows what it’s like to the be the person sending the pitches. Here’s what he said:

I value good pitches – I just don’t get any. It’s the same generic crap that I was doing at [PR agency] 15 years ago. My immediate reaction is, “You have no idea who we are or what we do.”

You can see immediately that it would do no good to explain, “Well, those people probably are pitching another 25-50 people so they can’t possibly take the time to know what you do.”

He already knows that. Does that make his life any different? No – he’s still has to wade through all that bloat, and it’s made him resentful. I imagine you and I would be the same way if we changed jobs and started receiving pitches all day. Because we know what it’s like to really focus on an influencer’s needs, and therefore it’s all the more glaring when someone doesn’t.

We succeed when we anticipate and meet journalists’ needs, not by educating them about ours.

P.S. If you need help keeping up with the rapidly changing nature of journalists’ needs, that’s what my Inner Circle is for. Watch your emails for a special opportunity coming up soon.

This article was originally published on May 10, 2018.