By Catherine Bayfield
You’ve got to be thick skinned when you work in PR and your job involves selling-in stories. This is our bread and butter – speaking to TV, radio and online journalists on a daily basis. Given a lot of us WERE broadcast journalists ourselves, in a previous career, we do understand what it takes to get a story on air. But that doesn’t stop us getting an earful every now and then! Here are some of the top brush-offs we get from broadcast journalists:
Send it to the generic e-mail. This is the ultimate brush off and the most popular fob off broadcast journalists use. You know you’re on a loser! What they really mean is it doesn’t grab their interest and they don’t want to argue with the PR. News desks received hundreds of emails a day and journalists claim that they read all emails. However when you call, more often than not, they have no idea what you are talking about.
We’re full. This is a particular favourite from BBC regional radio. They’re never full – they just don’t like your story. Five minutes later if you call with a better guest or different story they might just find a space.
Not him/her again, they’re always on! Sometimes spokespeople are over used. However good they are, and regardless of whether they boast celebrity status, if a programme has had them on just a few days or weeks before, your spokesperson will be rejected. We recommend that you ensure spokespeople have not done a radio day for 4-6 weeks before your campaign to ensure good pick up. Oh, and make sure the spokesperson’s agent is being truthful as sometimes they can ‘ overlook’ a radio day with their client!
Journalist: “My colleague’s not available at the moment, I’ll get them to call you back”. (Puts phone down).
PR: “Perfect, but you don’t have my number…..?’ (Talking into a dead line).
PR: “Hello, is (insert name) there?”
Journalist: “Let me just check…. (Pause)…. They’ve literally just walked out the door I’ve literally just seen them grab their coat, can you call tomorrow??”
“We don’t take PR stories, ever.” Some radio stations claim they don’t take PR Stories before even listening to what the story is about. But they can change their mind when they find out there are relevant talking points about their region and book in anyway.
“We don’t decide until the day.” Whilst many decisions over a story are made on the day there are as many that get booked in ahead of time. This is particularly true of BBC regional radio. And if the story or the spokesperson is strong enough nationals will book in ahead too!
“We don’t plan that far in advance”. A bit like the previous point and as blatantly untrue. Of course they plan that far in advance. Nearly all newsrooms have weekly as well as day before planning meetings and what they love is a list of stories – more stories than they’ll ever cover. And if you’re in the lead up to a public holiday such as Christmas or Easter they’ll plan even further ahead. Sorry, that’s just another way of saying they’re just not that into your PR campaign!
If you can’t bear the pain of the brush offs you can of course outsource your pain. We’ve heard all the excuses, know the alternative routes to get on-air – and are always happy to take on a broadcast media relations challenge!