A PR executive emails a reporter, asking if he is aware of a dispute between a city manager and city employees. People have been laid off. Questions are being raised about financial decisions. Public safety might be at risk. The PR pro sends along a press release and says she can put the reporter in touch with the right person for more information.
The reporter Googles the topic and reads that a local newspaper and TV station recently covered the story. It seems the TV station actually took the story a step further and dug up some extra, juicy details that might tick off taxpayers. So the reporter emails the PR executive back, wondering if there’s actually anything new to report.
After reading her response, he sees only one possible new detail to report and he’s not sure he even understands it. By the time the email is over, she says a second TV station is now showing interest and pretty much understands if the reporter passes on this one.
This type of situation happens often between the PR and journalism worlds. There’s the time a reporter finished shooting a special report and when he was leaving, the mother thanked him for putting her other children on camera. That’s because the other TV station didn’t put them on during its recent visit. Trust me. In that situation, telling the reporter the other station’s story was simply a blip on a website doesn’t help a whole lot.
I’ve talked about this before. I understand when a public relations firm wants to get as much coverage as possible. But there must be ways to get more coverage without media thinking you’re selling them used goods. The first example above may seem harmless in the end, but journalists will remember your name “from that time before.” You’re breaking a bond before you ever seal it.
Most stories have different angles and different people to interview. If you want all the coverage in the world, maybe hold something back from the first reporter who comes along. But persuading someone that one detail is worth a whole new story … you’re not fooling too many people. Maybe instead of pitching the idea to all five TV stations, hit up a community newspaper, blog and one TV station. If they’re not true competitors, the media sometimes couldn’t care less about a previous publication.
You wouldn’t want someone to ask you out on a date if he is already in another relationship. And claiming you weren’t sure if that relationship was going to work out isn’t going to make the second person feel warm and fuzzy. With a reporter who’s paying attention, you won’t get to first base, much less score.
Subscribe via email for our next blog.