Five things for PRs to remember when they’re dealing with freelance journalists

I love PRs. No, really, I do: in fact, I used to be one. There are some PR habits that can just get on a freelance journalist’s last nerve, though, so here are five things we wish PRs would bear in mind when they contact us:

1. We really don’t like it when you call us to ask if we got your press release

I know your boss probably makes you do it, and I know you’ve been taught to follow up by making phone contact, but I’ve yet to meet a journalist, freelance or otherwise, who isn’t just the tiniest bit irritated by these kind of calls. Especially on days when they come one after the other, and we can’t get any work done because we’re too busy answering the phone and reassuring PRs that yes, we got their press release.

2. We’re not the picture desk

That huge image file you just sent us? It took twenty minutes to download, and it’s of no use to me whatsoever, because I have no say in the kind of images that get published with the feature I’m writing. If you have images you’d like to send, ask me first. That way you don’t break my email, and everyone’s a winner.

3. We don’t always know when the piece will be published – or whether your client’s “mention” will get to stay in it

Like any other journalist, we’re at the mercy of our editors. Because  we’re freelancers, commissioned to write one piece and one piece only, though, we have even less idea than most of when the finished article will appear – or even if it will appear. Calling us repeatedly to ask “is it out yet?” will just serve as an irritant (see point 1) and won’t make us any more likely to know the answer.

4. We write about lots of different subjects, but that doesn’t mean you can spam us with every press release you send out

Most of us have certain specialisms, or subjects we’re more likely to be interested in that others. By taking the time to get to know what those specialisms are, you’ll have a better chance of getting our attention, because if you’re in the habit of sending out dozens of press releases every week, on subjects we have no interest in whatsoever, we’ll get into the habit of  ignoring  everything you send us.

5. We’re not all based in London

Being freelance means that we can work pretty much anywhere we want to – and not everyone wants to be in the city, believe it or not. So while it’s lovely that you’d like to meet up and sell me your client’s product in person, a quick look at my website will tell you that it’s going to be a very long round trip for one of us…

Coming soon – things for journalists to bear in mind when dealing with PRs.Well, it works both ways, you know…


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