23 September 2014

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What’s riling journalists: Report lists worst PR tactics

Americanisms, repeated phone calls and corporate jargon are among the PR tactics currently riling journalists up across the country according to a new report.

PR consultancy Twelve Thirty Eight has compiled a list of what fellow communications professionals should avoid, based on interviews with journalists from various UK news outlets.

Its annual Buzzword Report sees journalists vent their frustration over the key words and phrases likely to see them reaching for the ‘delete’ key

In compiling the report, Twelve Thirty Eight managing director Hamish Thompson warns PR workers that today’s journalists are often short of time and “can smell a non-story a mile off.”

Words such as “awesome” and “super-exciting” have annoyed many a newsroom team, the report states, lending a juvenile tone to the release.

Poor spelling and grammar is another turn off, representing not only the PR but their client in a poor light.

Corporate jargon also came under fire, with one response to the survey urging PRs to write in English rather than producing sentences such as: “We are entering a new global paradigm in business whereby operatives are no longer satisfied with having a physical office in which all deals must take place.”

Specific examples of “loathsome” behaviour from PRs is given an entire page, with special mention of the irritation of constant phone calls to follow up an e-mail.

One journalist noted: “Do not ring constantly just because you have sent me an email. I can read. If I want to follow it up, I can pick up a phone.

“In 20 years of journalism I cannot remember a single case of a PR phoning me about an email they have sent where this call has been anything other than a useless irritation. Stop doing it – the practice does nothing to advance your cause and indeed damages it.”

Others include statements such as “the client would like it to appear as…” – a clear bid for free advertising; failing to acknowledge the reporter on the other end of the phone probably has a hundred other things to be doing; and beginning releases with “Dear FirstName”.

A city editor had one final piece of advice for those drawing up press releases: “Why not try reading some newspapers? You might glean some idea of what makes a good story and what interests journalists. At the moment, many PRs seem to have little idea.”

The full copy of the report can be found here.

6 Comments

  1. Mike Waring, Gloucestershire

    As a PR of long standing (old) I fully agree with the comments the journ’s make.

    Some of the stuff I have been asked to put in press material over the years beggars belief for (a) content and (b) the guff that CEO’s and their like want released as the company statement. I stand my ground but I suppose that is an age thing. If you are a youngster looking to make your way it is hard to disagree with ‘the boss’ if you want to get on. I also heartily agree with the ‘read the papers’ observation. I’ve been astonished when working in agencies how few newspapers and trade mags are knocking about. How on earth do they write stuff without knowing the potential end user?

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  2. Golam Murtaza

    Another little bugbear, PR staff calling us to let us know about events which are so many miles away they are obviously nowhere near our LOCAL newspaper’s patch…so obviously not relevant. At least glance at a map guys!

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  3. GladImOutOfIt

    Re the follow-up phone calls: Yes, they are infuriating IF the recipient regularly reads/clears out his inbox. If, as is the case with one business editor I know who has a very busy inbox, the recipient routinely ignores anything but the last two or three to arrive, such a call is necessary to make sure he’s read it. But once only, please – and only if you know the recipient of old!

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  4. David

    Caps.

    brilliant = outstanding; impressive

    BRILLIANT = has failed to comprehend the meaning of brilliant and/or thinks I don’t know what it means either.

    Looks like spam and will be treated as such.

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  5. Liv Walker

    Radio PR’s who ring a local news room at ten to the hour with stories about the astonishing rise in wearing hats, or other such gibber. There is only one person to answer the phone and they’re preparing a bulletin. You will get hung up on!

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  6. House Rules

    @Golam, ‘Local to you’ annoys me. Working in London I get this a lot more, even if something is at the other side of the capital.

    “But you cover London and people can travel”
    “I cover a part of London and people could in theory travel from Manchester but that does not make it local.”

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