Why bad PR is killing all the fluffy kittens

Last week I was described by a PR person as “not very compliant”. In other amusing anecdotes, I was once also called “quite a ball buster” in a WIP meeting at a telco. My former flatmate was in the room at the time and indulged in endless mirth in reporting this back to me.

I’m not sure about the latter comment but the former is probably quite true. A year and a half ago, a few things changed. I lost my code of compliance, for a start. I made peace with broccoli, after years of pain and suffering. And I stopped answering my phone, because of non-stop PR pitches.

This all happened roughly a month after settling into the editor’s chair at Idealog. I think a lot of PR people see Idealog as an easy sell; we write about cool companies doing nifty stuff, and aside from the occasional ‘lovingly critical’ piece, for the most part we’re on the business peace train. Yeah! You’re in good hands when we’re driving the Love Bus.

So what’s the problem? Well, there’s Good PR and then there’s Bad PR. And unfortunately, I’ve seen a little bit too much Bad PR lately for my own liking, and I’ve also got my Ranty Pants on and boy, do they fit snugly. Here’s what separates bad from good.

Bad PR sends you an email addressed to the editor/deputy editor/features editor who left two years ago. “Hi Matt! Love your magazine! We read it every issue, cover to cover!” Clearly, you don’t. Otherwise you’d notice that Matt has had a sex change.

Good PR keeps its powder dry. One chap I met in a former job reporting on property only ever pitches stories he genuinely thinks will have a chance of being published. And yes, he often has to push back to the client, but at least you know he will never waste your time. 

For Idealog editor Hazel Phillip’s full list of PR faux pas and redemptions, click here.

I’m sure PR people have their own frustrations about journalists or a few horror tales to tell (post them below, if you do, and we shall all laugh at the carnage). Your frustration with me is probably that I don’t answer the phone and hence don the verbal handcuffs. But if I did, we’d simply never get the magazine to print.

For the moment, I shall continue on my merry path of non-compliance and get back to work. I got me some balls to bust.

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