The five biggest complaints about PR clients
10th December 2013
Working in PR is hard sometimes, you spend your whole time trying to find a middle ground between clients and journalists when, realistically, the middle ground isn’t what either wants.
Fundamentally though, even if many journalists don’t quite get this, your clients are your employers. So you just have to suck a lot of it up, even if it does mean you’re peddling shit to (almost) strangers whose job it is to write the news.
As much as I owe clients, some of the things they do really piss me off.
They are doing their reputations as much damage as they are doing my sanity.
1. Not understanding what news is
Look – if you want to pay me thousands of pounds to sell in crap stories, I will. I’ll have to, won’t I, because you’ve told me to, and you own me. I’ll push back hard when I know something isn’t going to work, but some clients insist you spend hours selling in self-serving press releases with no news value. It’s doubly annoying because you know that you’re only going to piss of your contacts. One of the reasons businesses hire me is because I have good relationships with the media, but it’s all a bit pointless if they’re going to fuck them up.
2. Using marketing jargon
Okay – so I’ve taken your non-news, spent hours trying to turn it into something newsworthy, and now you want to undo all of that good work by putting more “key differentiators” in there. Listen, first, “being unique” is not a key differentiator, and second, if you want to put out a brochure, PAY AN ADVERTISER …
3. Missing deadlines/not being available
Right – you wanted the BBC, by some miracle I’ve got it interested, and now you’re telling me you can’t make any interviews that day. For the love of God … what did I do to deserve this?
4. Asking for copy approval
Well done, you finally made yourself available for an interview, and now you want what? Copy approval? Okay, so some journalists give copy approval. You’d think that’d be lovely, but actually it’s a sodding nightmare because it makes clients think it’s the done thing. And it’s not. At least not in the UK, and who cares what they’re doing in France? Please stop making me ask people, I don’t need to be shouted at, not about this, not again.
5. Asking to change quotes
“The coverage is amazing, but, um, I don’t really like this quote, it doesn’t make me sound very smart, can you, um, ask them to change it?” – Come on now, we’ve had this discussion before. It’s just not going to happen, and journalists LOATHE being asked. It’s not like the answer has ever been yes in the past. It’s not like UK journalism is suddenly going to change its mind and decide that you can redefine what you actually said. Give it up, move on!
Oh God – will you look at that, it’s a nightmare from start to end. I’m going to go and get drunk, and try again next week.
This week's Hacked Off is written by @Pissed_Off_PR