How to do PR

The top ten lies of PR companies

Inspired by Guy Kawasaki's blog entry, "The top ten lies of venture capitalists," I decided to analyse the behaviour of PR companies. It didn't take long to come up with ten good 'uns more than a decade ago when I was working as a freelance journalist. I heard all these lies back then, often more than once.

Note that not all PR companies are skunks. If you find a decent one, let me know.

  • "I'll get back to you later today" = I'll wait until you nag me or I'm going to be distracted by the next person on the phone.
  • "I'm just having a bit of trouble finding Joe Bloggs" = I forgot to tell him about the interview and now his secretary is trying to pull him out of a meeting.
  • "I've read lots of your work" = Who are you again?
  • "Just drop me an email with the outline and I'll set up the interviews" = I didn't bother to listen to what you just said or take any notes. If you spoon feed me all the information by email, I may do something.
  • "When's your deadline?" = I'll make sure to call you back the day after.
  • "Can you let me have your number?" = I'll lose it and won't be able to call you when I really have to but until then I'll call you whenever you're on deadline or sleeping and ask if you received the press release I just sent you.
  • "We're organising a press trip to San Francisco, would you like to come?" = We're going to cancel the trip a month beforehand but we'll only tell you the week before you expected to go and only after you've sold in two articles.
  • "Our client is perfect for your article" = what are you writing about? I'm sure he can find something to say about information security in the nuclear power industry.
  • "Let's have lunch" = I can bill my client and go somewhere nicer than Pret.
  • "I'll come along for the interview. It's a good chance to get to know the client's business better." = I can bill them for the time I spend listening into your dreary interview and it beats cold calling journalists for two hours.

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Matthew Stibbe

Matthew is founder and CEO of Articulate Marketing.