When I worked in regional newspapers there were some pretty tough characters running the newsdesks.
They would get calls from PR companies about a whole variety of subjects. The conversations would pretty much go like this:
[The PR would phone up - and it was usually the office junior who ended up with this most-dreaded of jobs.]
PR: ‘Hi there, it’s Felicity from the Fantastic PR Company, I’m just calling to see if you got our news release.’
News editor (grumpily): ‘Did you send it?’
News Editor: ‘We got it then’. [Phone slammed down.]
Every day I heard dozens of these interactions and so I decided I would be kind to the Felicity's of this world and tell them nicely that, yes, I had received their news release and that there was absolutely no chance it would be used. But ALWAYS nicely.
I think there must be some sort of karma at work here, because now I am the person calling the newsdesks, pitching stories and feature ideas on behalf of our clients.
But the difference is, because I have lived that world, I know what stories will work and where they’ll work. We manage our clients’ PR expectations. If something is just downright commercial we won’t promise to try and get it published, or spam up the newsdesks’ inboxes with stories they don’t want. It doesn’t reflect well on us, and one of the main reasons we have built such good relationships with the media, locally and nationally, is they know we understand them and we’re not going to waste their time.
So there may be the occasional times we have to say to clients, ‘you know what this won’t work for editorial’. But then we explore all the other options (traditional and digital) they have for getting the message out there.
We look at the message and the target audience and work with our clients to choose the most appropriate channels or platform to deliver their message.
And by the way, sorry to all those PR girls who got short shrift when they called the newsdesks I worked on. Just remember, I was the nice one!