’Are you tired of misdirected mail, aimless faxes and unwanted calls from PR?’ asked an innocuous letter that landed on my desk last week.
’Are you tired of misdirected mail, aimless faxes and unwanted
calls from PR?’ asked an innocuous letter that landed on my desk last
’Here’s your chance to respond. Tell the PR industry what you really
want - and don’t want.’
It sounded too good to be true, a chance to nip in the bud those
pointless requests and suggestions!
The letter, sent by Ian Golder, directories editor of the Infocom Group,
was accompanied by a survey gathering information for The National PR
Pitch Book. Golder has taken on the modest task of improving the
relationship between the media and PR groups. ’We caused a stir in the
press recently by calling for the end of mass mailings of press
releases,’ the letter added proudly.
Golder is right to say that mass mailings have little value to any PR
pro. After all, any announcement that can afford to take two days to get
to a journalist can’t be that important.
Nowadays, the postage stamp is used mainly for invitations to parties
and film premieres. But I fear that Golder’s attempt to reduce the
publicist/journalist relationship to an exact science won’t work - at
least not in the entertainment field.
According to Golder’s letter, ’PR people use The National PR Pitch Book
as the source for reporters’ and editors’ unique needs - which makes the
information (the journalist) receives more valuable, more targeted and
It sounds fine in theory, and a virgin publicist moving into
entertainment might want to check it out. But anybody who has been
working in Hollywood for any length of time will know that publicists
rarely ’pitch’ anything to journalists.
The relationship between the two is far more sophisticated and less
clearly delineated than that. Here’s how it works: publicists spend time
getting to know journalists and judge how susceptible they are to
pressure - which the publicist will inevitably need to apply at some
Journalists, meanwhile, ingratiate themselves with publicists, build up
some credit and then call in favors when necessary. It’s a trade-off
that enables journalists to break the occasional major story and studios
to put its spin on any embarrassments - or, preferably, keep them out of
the press altogether.
For PR vets, The National PR Pitch Book can’t possibly contain any
And at the risk of unleashing a torrent of cold-calls, I’m not sure that
a publicist should be finding out what I ’want’ from a media
I’m not sure I can spell it out myself. After all, there could be
something sensational hidden in those ’aimless faxes and unwanted
calls.’ You never know.