EDITORIAL: Get well read before you pitch the press

PRWeek's raison d'etre is to keep the industry informed, but we also see ourselves as industry champions. Our pages may contain bad news as well as good, criticism as well as praise, but that is because you would want no less - and it doesn't detract from the editorial team's commitment to do as much as it objectively can to further the industry's causes.

PRWeek's raison d'etre is to keep the industry informed, but we also see ourselves as industry champions. Our pages may contain bad news as well as good, criticism as well as praise, but that is because you would want no less - and it doesn't detract from the editorial team's commitment to do as much as it objectively can to further the industry's causes.

Recently, we've given a handful of interviews to journalists from other outlets. Our key message is always that the dated tag of "spin-doctor" is a misrepresentation of the industry as a whole, and doesn't come close to explaining the role of the PR pro in modern business. And all of us regularly find ourselves going into battle - as you no doubt do too - against the prejudicial idea of PR pros as flacks employed to gloss over the facts and obstruct those oh-so-perfect journalists in their quest for the truth.

But, without ever wishing to join the ranks of the snotty journalists who tar all PR pros with some unthinking flack's brush, there are times when we see where their apparent prejudices come from.

By Wednesday this week - and this week isn't unusual - we had recorded four instances of a PR pro either calling the news editor with a features inquiry or the features editor with a news inquiry. How hard is it to find the masthead in the magazine and call the right person? Only three people so far this week have called pitching a piece for a non-existent section - usually targeting "book reviews

or "events

- but we think this is below average.

However, any time gained thanks to the below-average pitching of imaginary sections was lost when the news editor started her week by going through the agonizing rigmarole of responding to a press release by asking for the book the release was promoting, only to be referred to another source (unmentioned on the release) who didn't know what the request was about and claimed never to have heard of the person on the original release.

There was also one incident of a reporter calling the subject of a just-issued press release to find that they were "on vacation

for the next two weeks.

On a daily basis we receive black and white photos, despite the fact that we've always been a color magazine with a policy of having no black and white images (unless we're talking about Ed Bernays or Woodrow Wilson, who don't seem to come in color).

This, however, is not even mildly annoying compared to those daily, even hourly calls and e-mails in which a PR pro requests a reporter to "please place this in your magazine,

as if we are photocopying service rather than an editorial team aspiring to produce a quality national business magazine.

We've always welcomed your news and feature ideas - few magazines are likely as open to pitches. Admittedly, we won't always gush over a $30,000 agency account win or the promotion of an account exec - bear in mind that such stories will have little relevance for most of our 40,000 readers, many of whom work in-house. But we're all ears when it comes to stories that show the impact of PR strategies on corporate, nonprofit, or government organizations. Industry trends, innovative techniques, and stories about key industry issues like measurement, ethics or diversity will also tickle our fancy.

Pitch us. Get to know us. But with us - or any other magazine - there is still one golden rule: read and know the magazine before contacting us. Sorry if that sounds simplistic, but there are still a handful of pros doing their peers a major disservice.

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