The PR Quiz: Test Your Publicity Knowledge
by Marcia Yudkin
Try putting yourself in the
shoes of reporters, columnists and editors with
this quiz. Of the following actions, a majority
would drive most media folks crazy. Which
examples represent annoyances and why?
1. A columnist to whom you sent your product
for review sent regrets, saying he doesn't
review products. Two weeks later you read a
column of his about a product. You send a note
admonishing him for misleading you and demanding
fairness for your product.
Someone I know did this, certain she had been
lied to and mistreated. Her first mistake:
acting as if the columnist owed her something.
Nope! Publicity is a privilege you earn through
sending news to appropriate media outlets - not
Second, the columnist wrote true-life stories
that might mention a product or company in
passing, not product reviews. Understand that
columnists have their own angle that they'll
never bend to suit you.
Third, don't complain about not getting
coverage. Even when news you submit is spot on,
time and space limitations exist. Just try
2. You send a pitch letter to a reporter, who
replies that they recently covered your company.
You write back saying that you looked all over
the Web site but couldn't find the piece; which
one was it? The reporter e-mails back with
something that sounds sarcastic, but you're not
sure. You reply that sarcasm isn't called for;
you're just trying to get your story out.
A reporter from Forbes magazine posted
this exchange at buzzkiller.net as a prime
instance of clueless behavior. The mistake:
expecting media folks to do your research for
3. On Friday you send a press release by
e-mail and on Monday you call to make sure it
A magazine editor friend of
mine cited this example as making her want to
scream, Do you think I'm superhuman? Let me get
through my in-box!
4. You spend an hour being interviewed by a
magazine writer and get just two paragraphs in
the resulting article. You drop a note to the
writer about how disappointed you feel that your
best points were left out of the piece.
Bad move. It's great that you got two
paragraphs! The writer's job is not to report
every pearl of brilliance she heard but to
produce a balanced story that flows and informs.
Keep the door open to future coverage by
thanking the writer, not complaining.
5. You aren't sure which department at a big
magazine would cover your story, so you e-mail
it to every editor listed at the Web site.
This backfires because many of these editors
will forward the e-mail to the correct person,
who then gets 15 copies and concludes that you
exercised poor judgment.
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6. Every time you reach a live media contact
by phone, you preface your call with "Do
you have a moment to talk, or are you on
Bingo! This is considered courteous in a
business where deadlines rule.
Copyright 2001 Marcia Yudkin.
All rights reserved.
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