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5 Ways for Journalists to Build Better Relationships with PR Pros

Yesterday our friend and PR veteran Peter Himler wrote a Forbes article with an intriguing headline: “The Journalist and the PR Pro: A Broken Marriage?” Given the chatter over Monday’s guest post by a former journalist turned PR master, we thought we’d explore the idea a little further.

Himler’s main point: a significant number of the students in the journalism program where he spoke last week don’t want to write for The New York Times or The Wall Street Journal–they want to go into PR and advertising. They want to write sponsored content, not investigative journalism. Of course this makes sense, because journalism can be a very tough and often underpaid pursuit.

Himler, like many in the industry, believes that the always-challenging relationship between hacks like us and pitchmen/women has taken a turn for the worse. Yet we agree with his conclusion: this marriage may be strained, but it’s hardly broken.

On Monday Lindsay Goldwert called on her journalist friends to make a list of “do’s and dont’s” for PR pros. Himler’s piece includes both sides of the equation, so we’d like to flip the script: how should journalists and bloggers interact with PR folks? Himler’s suggestions and our comments after the jump:

1. Respond to our pitches, please. We know you get a lot of them, but if they are at all relevant you could at least tell us “thanks but no thanks” in a friendly way. 

Yeah, we’re guilty of this one. Sorry! It’s a challenge, because our job is all about posting as much (hopefully good) content as possible every day. But we will try to respond to more of you in the future. And if our emails seem a little curt, please don’t take it personally. We are really busy.

2. If a pitch is viable but not relevant to you, please consider forwarding it to another colleague.

This is a great point. In fact, our colleagues at Mediabistro forward us pitches all the time. But we realize that we should do it more often, because we have lots of cool blogs. Please forgive us.

3. Know that if you don’t take the story, someone else will.

Again, a very valid point. Surprisingly, journalists and bloggers are not always the best judges of which stories will get the most traffic. And no journo should get angry when another publication gets a lot of attention for a story he or she declined.

4. Remember that we’ll do our best to run down content or interview subjects when you’re in a bind.

This is crucial too. While our blog doesn’t usually include individual posts on hirings, awards and such, we love “tips and tools from experts” posts–and so do our readers. And we really do appreciate it when a PR person connects us to someone who will provide content that’s truly valuable to that audience, because we rarely have the time to perform extensive research on our own (hint hint).

5. Please try to be civil. We’re just doing our jobs like you are.

We know this no-brainer point gets lost in the shuffle sometimes. We don’t think we’ve been too rude to PR folks in the past, but we will make a concerted effort to be nicer.

Oh, and a final, very important point: if you send us pitches every single day then none of these rules apply. Seriously. Straight to the spam folder with you, sir!

We know PR pros tend to be a little shy at times, but we’d love to hear more. Please let us know if you have anything to add to this list.

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