PR releases…why are so many so bad?

Can we get better content from PR?

As someone that has worked in public relations and content production for almost nine of my eighteen years in media I am still flabbergasted by communication companies delivering irrelevant content.

It comes in all forms of press releases, product and book deliveries and pesky PR people to name a few.

There is not one person in radio that hasn’t experienced this weekly, daily and for many of you each hour and even minute. You will all have your own stories and know the culprits but it is never ending.

It raises a lot of questions.

What do businesses and brands actually pay for when they invest in PR? How can these PR practitioners be so far off the mark not even knowing the style of program, the presenters or even worse the audience of a program or station? Then you get to those business owners that are doing PR themselves and have no concept as to what is a story or what is newsworthy let alone if it is valid for a radio stations audience.

With all the cutbacks and minimisation of staff and resources that is happening in the radio industry there is no time or even allowances anymore for poor PR. The industry needs quality content, it wants relevant, relative and timely news from the communications industry but it can’t put up any longer with incompetent and out-of-touch PR professionals. It is almost time to oust them or even name-and-shame.

What can we do as part of the radio industry to improve the content coming through? There are many ideas but in many cases you never want to close all the doors fully on communication with PR, but instead leave a few windows open.

Here are a few suggestions in at least minimising irrelevant material being sent to you.

  • Tell the PR company they are off the mark with your audience – unfortunately a non-response from media is just an invitation for more irrelevant contact in the future.
  • If you are constantly bombarded with irrelevant material from a PR contact the company direct to let them know they should take you off your mailing list.
  • Ring the MD of the PR company and ask why? Or even better ring the company promoted.
  • Out them! We are all on social media and ask politely to be a little more careful with distribution.

Watch the quality of communications and PR improve overnight! It might just be the shake-up that is required.

Of course all this takes time and energy that we don’t actually have. It is more resources applied than what it actually is worth but the truth is the same problems we have been complaining about for 20 years won’t go away unless we, the radio industry, take responsibility.

Mass distribution of content is fine if you have the ability to filter at the other end. There is nothing that replaces real relationships between media and PR that understand each other, know each other’s audiences and want to actually provide quality content that works in the favour of the client and audience.

Nicholas Hayes

If you pitch a story to 3AW breakfast you better know the presenters are Ross Stevenson and John Burns.

If you are talking to the Drive presenter of 6PR you better call him Adam Shand not Howard Sattler or Paul Murray. Don’t pitch funeral services or incontinence pads to a Nova audience or in the same light pitch the latest fashion brands to a 4BC or 2GB audience.

PR professionals, know your audience for the sake of your client and your own future.

So I guess the time is right to get annoyed with PR, Publicists or with Lobbyists; but maybe not too annoyed. They are actually your best assets for content because we all know the majority of business people on their own have no idea how to tell a story. The good ones know how to, but they are rare.

As an industry we do have a responsibility to our audiences to make sure the majority of misguided PR never actually sees the light of day. Wouldn’t it be a better world when we actually have a smarter, intelligent and even targeted PR firm that works for us? The media game will make more sense.

So today it might be time to draw a line. You are a producer, a presenter or even the very rare and endangered content director. It’s time to help the PR practitioners that aren’t really helping themselves or their clients get it right. Stop wasting our time, your time and the client that is paying good money to be represented by you.

We have one of the most dynamic, exciting and thriving industries, in radio, and to be honest the game has stepped up to be better, and now it is time for the communications and PR industry to follow suit.

Nicholas Hayes is Managing Director of Media Stable, a directory of experts, commentators and content for media.

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