"Hi - I hope this email finds you enjoying the sunshine."
How many PR people start their email pitch to a journalist this way? A lot it appears. And it seems to really annoy them.
It begs the question just how many PR people have spent time, however fleeting, in a newsroom? Do they really understand how time-pressed journalists really work.
I am one of the early graduates of a PR degree (back in the early 1990s) and our studies looked at law, design and communication theory - which like algebra at school was immediately forgotten.
Not once was time spent talk to or meeting journalists. My own studies were supplemented with a weekend shift for the Sunday People and various freelance roles.
It appears that not much has changed.
There is, of course, much more to PR than media relations - but it still plays a large part of our role. It is a skill we need.
Many PR professionals are unaware that daily newspapers hold a ‘morning conference’ where journalists pitch stories to their editors. Nor do they realise that some daily newspaper content is produced weeks ahead of publication. These knowledge gaps mean they often get their timing wrong on stories – pitching ideas too late for journalists’ deadlines, for example. And few have walked around a busy editorial office and seen desks piled high with review products sent by PRs – books still in their packaging, unopened media packs and samples – which is why they often have unrealistic expectations about the kind of coverage they can expect. During a brief stint at a parenting magazine, I couldn’t believe the amount of ‘stuff’ that was sent into the office each day: car seats, pushchairs, nappies, toys and beauty samples – it was everywhere.