I don’t hold back, and I don’t expect my readers to either. I like it when readers tell me what they think—especially if they vehemently disagree with me.
Recently, I wrote “9 Ways You’re Ticking Me Off“ about how public relations and marketing people drive me crazy—like asking me to lay off the sarcasm when I write about their firm or telling me the partners would like to “pre-approve” my article.
I got a bunch of reactions to my post on the “9 Ways.” Most PR/marketing types thought my comments were helpful, though one took umbrage that I referred to PR professionals as “flacks” (he asked how I would feel if journalists were called “hacks”; for the record, I’m cool with that.)
But John Buchanan, senior communications manager at Sheppard, Mullin, Richter & Hampton, wrote an analog to my post: The ways journalists annoy his profession. Without further ado, here is Buchanan’s piece:
Nine Things Journalists Do That Drive PR People Crazy: A Primer for Journalists
By John Buchanan
Did you get my email??? If you’ve read my pitch—and it wasn’t a blanket/broadcast pitch—but one specifically for you, can you at least acknowledge receipt? I’m a big boy and I can take a “No thanks. Not interested.” But not hearing back at all? Not cool.
Just checking. I would rarely ask to see what you’re going to publish before it comes out—but if your questions were complicated (or the answers were) why isn’t it OK to ask to see quotes for accuracy or context? It’s a reporter’s (or editor’s) prerogative to say “yes” or “no,” but can you at least consider it on a case-by-case basis?
Be careful with “comments.” When comments are “off the record,” don’t then use those comments and then identify who said them. And please don’t write, “The firm did not respond to requests for comment,” when you didn’t even reach out in the first place (even if you didn’t have time).
Bad news, baby! If the piece you are writing is going to be unflattering to my firm, please give me ample opportunity to get firm leadership’s OK to respond and their OK on how to respond. I’m not scared to tackle tough questions or sticky stories, but please understand, depending on the issue at hand, it may take several hours to get internal approvals from an attorney, a client or firm leadership.
Just for YOU. If I’m offering you an exclusive you can guarantee that’s exactly what it is. I understand how many emails you get every day, but if I’ve chosen you for this insight, do me the courtesy of responding, so I can move on to another reporter if I need to.
Say “no” to “no comment.” Totally agree it’s always better to comment than to say, “No comment.” There are two sides (sometimes more) to every story. We always try to say something. But law firms, especially in Big Law, are conflicted out of commenting a lot of the time. Please understand that some clients specifically tell us that we cannot comment—in any way—on the work we do for them. It’s not that we don’t want to help you, it’s that we can’t help you.
Correction! After your story runs, and I notice a factual error and contact you about running a correction, please don’t: 1) ignore me; 2) act like you are infallible; or 3) take days to make the correction. The beauty of online journalism is that you can make corrections and updates almost instantaneously.
CC me, please. I’m all for you having direct relationships with the attorneys I work for, and I know you’d much rather talk to them than talk to me, but can you keep me in the loop? Even just a cc on an email is helpful. My lawyers generally think I know about all of our contacts with the media, and when I don’t, I look like a dunce.
On the cutting room floor. I know there’s never a guarantee that everyone you interview for a story ends up being quoted, but can you at least give me a heads-up if you know we’re going to make it into your story or not? It’s always better if I can tell an attorney that we didn’t end up being mentioned before the story runs.
Contact Vivia Chen at email@example.com. On Twitter: @lawcareerist.