Wick Communications

10 pet peeves of PIOs

In journalism on August 30, 2013 at 8:42 am

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When times were sunnier for the big metro dailies, reporters often made sport of those sorrowful men and women who were employed in media relations for corporate or government interests. “Oh, what a terrible job – shilling for (insert deceitful organization here),” we thought. “We almost feel badly for the lying scoundrels!”

Well, the worm has turned just a bit. There are now many ways for public relations pros to bypass legacy media and bring their message directly to their customers. As a result, they aren’t as apt to grovel for attention as they once were.

The other day I saw a list of PIO complaints. Lauren Rugani takes media calls for the National Academy of Sciences. I’m sure she has had a bellyful of rude reporters calling with vague questions and needing answers right this instant. It’s easy to imagine that her job is difficult, perhaps particularly since she has to gladly suffer the fools of the press.

Now, here’s the opposing list, from USA Today reporter Natalie DiBlasio, as printed on Muckrack. I’m sure you are nodding along with DiBlasio here. We’ve all gotten the sorts of pitches she is talking about. …

Here’s something that struck me about both of these lists: They come from really busy professionals who, sometimes, have to virtually shout to be heard. That is why we get PR emails in all caps and in different colors. That is why a PIO at a museum calls the USA Today crime reporter about something that is nowhere near his beat. It’s also why reporters call the wrong PIO, breathlessly expressing the absolute need to talk to the CEO right this very minute about something that must go to the Web in an hour.

I have always thought that the basis of a good understanding between our opposing forces is a little respect. I try to be unfailingly polite to PR folks. I know they are just doing their jobs and I hope they understand the same is true of me, even if I sometimes make unreasonable requests.

I guess these lists are cathartic and a chance to vent. But I think we would all do well to get the complaints out of our systems and be a little more understanding of the people on the other end of the line.

Clay

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