If you work in media relations, journalists and bloggers are your bosses. I think a lot of media relations pros overlook this basic fact when working with the media. It’s easy to think the client is the boss since they’re paying the bills each month. Throw best practices out the window and pitch the story – you need something for this week’s status report, right?
Really though, you can’t make a journalist or blogger write or talk about you. YOU ARE NOT IN CONTROL, they are. Why am I writing about this? Because I keep seeing complaint, after complaints, after complaint about how PR reps are pitching the media today. A lot of PR pros consider themselves equal. They make the mistake of believing it’s a two-way street. They think journalists and bloggers need them as much as they need them. They don’t. They keep telling you they don’t, but you don’t believe them.
The truth is, the journalist or blogger ultimately writes or produces the story. Sure, their editor or producer might have the final say-so even if they don’t have complete control – but you can only put your best pitch forward and hope for the best. Even if you land the interview, there’s no guarantee your source is going to be quoted, your survey stats are going to be used, or your product photo is going to be credited just how you like it. And you know what? They might not even link to your website – even after you reminded them to.
Keep this in mind when you engage with the media – they are the boss. They can make you or break you. Treat them as you would your boss. Don’t piss them off, and maybe you’ll get what you want. Do everything you can to meet and exceed their expectations, and you’ll be rewarded.
Of course, if you still want to think you’ve got some control of the situation, by all means… keep doing what you’re doing. The smart media relations professionals out there know who really pays the bills – it’s the journalists and bloggers that ultimately help your pitch see the light of day.