The editor behind the Embargo Watch web site draws upon more than three years of experience in compiling a list of 10 rules for institutions that want to control when and how their news gets out to the public. Several of the rules could be boiled down to one simple piece of advice: Be consistent. "And as one public relations executive said recently, 'Every manager here has a different set of rules about embargoes,'" Oransky writes.
Gini Dietrich writes on PR Daily about a novel approach for getting attention from journalists — a "response campaign" of commenting on stories by targeted writers: "If you are consistent and post intelligent comments once a week, you'll soon develop relationships with journalists who call you when they need someone to interview. Yes, it takes some time. Yes, it's hard work. Yes, it requires you to keep up with your reading. But it works 100 percent of the time."
"Reporters who think that embargoes sometimes have an 'anything goes' quality about them are not mistaken," Denise Graveline writes on her Don't Get Caught blog. Graveline lists 10 "myths" about embargoes and how they are used and misused to manage news coverage, including: That embargoes encourage reporters to cover a story (they don't); that all you have to do is put "embargoed" label on your news release; that you can apply an embargo to some reporters but not others.
Few things get less attention in a busy newsroom than a typical press release. Yet clients often insist on them, Denise Graveline writes: "It may seem as if the only thing your clients request is a press release, regardless of intended audience, media interest, likelihood of coverage or content issues." She lists other options, "all of which can be used to prompt a discussion about the intended audience and whether, in fact, a release is the right tool for the job."
Mostly the latter, 146 Washington reporters say in a survey from the Society of Professional Journalists. Lead author Carolyn S. Carlson: “Reporters in Washington are struggling to give the public an objective view of the federal government, but are running into interference rather than assistance from the very people hired by the government to help them.” Full report. Comment from AHCJ, Poynter.
Andrew Hindes at PRNews asks three editors what makes a good headline and puts their tips in this blog post. “Avoid fluff or padding,” says Lisa Horowitz, copy chief at the L.A. Weekly. “Don't put the entire story in the headline — one of the main goals of a headline is to entice the reader, without spelling out everything the story has to offer.” The journalist should know just enough from reading the headline to determine if the story might be of interest.
For starters, don't pitch a new year story two weeks into January, writes Denise Graveline on her Don't Get Caught blog. She lists examples both good (a pitch to Andy Revkin at the New York Times) and bad ("Want to make sure I got your email? I got it. Want to see if I need to speak with someone? If I need to, I’ll ask.") Plus how to pitch infographics and how to avoid becoming a spammer when sending out press releases.
Some of the most common trespasses for PIOs include not returning reporters’ emails and calls in a timely fashion, hyping news, being dishonest or misleading, micromanaging rather than facilitating, not knowing one’s audience, and not following through on promises.
Rosanna Fiske writes on a Poynter Institute blog that journalists sometimes move into public relations without knowing or accepting how the two differ. "Many PR professionals got their start in journalism, or were educated in J-schools. They know and respect the realities and challenges reporters face daily. Now, as more journalists migrate to public relations, I’m left wondering: Do reporters know and respect the realities and challenges of PR?"
Debra Caruso was a radio journalist before becoming a public relations professional. Writing on ragan.com, she lists the reasons former journalists may make good PR people, and why they may not. On the plus side: "A nose for news will help drive client coverage." Among the negatives: The uncomfortable job of pitching friends and colleagues who are still in the business. Don't miss the discussion in the comments section. Related from Poynter.