9 ways PR flaks annoy the hell out of journalists

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Do you work in the PR industry? Then chances are you’ve recently annoyed a journalist. Here how:

  1. You sent us a needless follow-up email: Do not follow up with us repeatedly to see if we saw your email. Yes, we saw your email, and us not responding to it was a sign that we passed on the story. We’ve entered no social contract with you wherein we’re duty-bound to respond to your cold pitch.
  2. You email us too much in general: On a related note, if you’re repping a relatively small company or organization and you’re pitching the same journalist more than once a month, then you’re annoying them.
  3. You spam us: Do not add us to some kind of mass press release distribution list unless we specifically ask you to. It’s basically the equivalent of signing us up for a newsletter without our permission.
  4. You‘re lazy: You’re really not doing yourself any favors by simply pulling our contact info from some PR database. Those databases are often extremely broad in their categories. For instance, I’m listed as a “tech reporter” in most of them even though I cover an extremely narrow subsection of tech. 99% of tech pitches I receive are about topics I’d never cover.
  5. You don’t understand how journalism works: No, we won’t send you questions ahead of the interview. In most cases, interviews are conversations and we only have some rough talking points outlined in our heads about what we want to discuss.
  6. You’re too controlling: No, we don’t want to conduct the interview over email instead of by phone. Email interviews produce boring quotes.
  7. You overestimate your importance: We really find it annoying that you insist on being present at every interview, even if we tolerate it. Please don’t try to make us jump through logistical hoops just so you can be on a phone call.
  8. You don’t do your research: Do some simple checking to see if a journalist even still writes about a subject. I stopped writing a podcast recommendation newsletter all the way back in 2017, and yet I still receive upward of five pitches a day about new podcasts that are launching.
  9. You lack basic human decency: DO NOT EVER CALL US TO SEE IF WE RECEIVED YOUR PRESS RELEASE.

What else should I add to the list?

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Tech and media journalist. Email me: simonowens@gmail.com

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Simon Owens

Simon Owens

Tech and media journalist. Email me: simonowens@gmail.com

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