Let's bring old school PR flavor back

Communication exchanges between PR professionals and journalists can often times feel rushed. I worry that some of my fellow Generation Y PR professionals do not value face-to-face meetings with journalists.

In today's results driven PR landscape, communication exchanges between PR professionals and journalists can often times feel rushed. I worry that some of my fellow Generation Y PR professionals do not value face-to-face meetings with journalists and are afraid of the phone.

I remember listening to a senior leader at Burson-Marsteller speak about her earlier PR career in New York City and how she would arrange individual face-to-face meetings with journalists to educate them about her clients' businesses.

Since I am a Generation Y public relations professional, this practice seemed out of the norm and almost uncanny to me. At the same time, her ideas made me think this is the way PR should be practiced. More PR professionals should be meeting with journalists when there is not any news to be pitched, no media tour in plan, or industry event in town.

I recently had the opportunity to meet with a veteran journalist in the Bay Area, and even though he has been writing for more than 15 years for an established publication, he mentioned that he had only been approached about meetings to discuss the IT industry by a PR professional a few times over the years. He very much appreciated meeting with his news counterpart and discussing how journalists and PR professionals can work together in a more efficient manner.

My generation seems less equipped to handle some of the basic aspects of PR like meeting with journalists face-to-face or a good old fashioned phone call. And I would argue that technology has heavily affected this trend.

Talking with journalists on the phone is helpful, because it's a time for PR professionals to discuss their pitch and hear feedback directly from a journalist's mouth. It may be nerve wracking to speak with a reporter over the phone, especially when they are on deadline, but you are able to receive their direct feedback in a matter of seconds. What's interesting is that my generation is now so used to communicating with their family and friends through text messages that speaking on the phone feels almost uncomfortable.

Now meeting with a journalist in person or speaking with a reporter over the phone certainly doesn't mean you will secure an article for your client every time, but it's the best way to build a long-term relationship with a member of the media. The relationships you are able to build will serve you well in the future.

The relationship between a journalist and public relations representative is a two-way street and in today's world, editorial and marketing professionals depend on each other more than ever.

So to my fellow Gen Y PR colleagues, get out there and communicate with journalists the way the previous generation of PR professionals did. Communications will continue to change and evolve as time goes on, but the basic principles of relationship building will remain the same, as they should.

Chris Blake is client executive in Burson-Marsteller's technology practice and fan experience specialty.

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