PR Tips – Why "I hope you're well" annoys most journalists

As the recession has continued, so have advertising revenues declined at all national media.

That means busy journalists are even more rushed and they have precious little time for niceties.

It's one of the great jokes of PR that the perception of publicists shooting the breeze with journalists over long lunches and late dinners is actually so far from the truth.

We're fortunate at Calacus that we've built up relationships with the media over the past 20 years. We've been to the weddings, birthdays and celebrations of a wide range of leading journalists in a wide range of fields. That's what makes us different.

But there will always be journalists we approach who we don't have a long term relationship with already.

And one thing we've learnt after doing a little research with our strong contacts, is how easily annoyed they are by over-familiar flacks.

The “hi, how are you doing today?” question is an absolute no-go for any PR professional making contact with a journalist for the first time.

Whilst it may seem to the innocent PR professional as courteous and all-concerning, it is actually perceived as some-what of a teeth-grinding question to the journalist you have emailed and yet never met or liaised with in the past.

Many PR professionals seem to forget to ask themselves a basic question before sending a journalist an email asking about their current feelings – ‘do I actually have a relationship with this person?’ 

If the answer is no, asking how they’re doing may come across as insincere which can hinder your chances of developing a relationship with them in the future. However, if the answer is yes, then the ‘Hi, how are you?’ should become a crucial sentence within your emails to that person as this will help build rapport and further the ability to develop an ongoing relationship with them.

Media relations is a central aspect of public relations and knowing how to speak to journalists is fundamental to gaining coverage for your clients.

Journalists are busy and want to know that you've contacted them with good reason - because you think they and their publication will be interested in what you're promoting as a story.

Sincerity and trust are important qualities which will build a relationship with journalists and both parties will build respect for one another which subsequently helps increase your chances of gaining coverage - as long as the story is strong and relevant.

At Calacus we understand the media and use our insight and contacts to maximise the potential to gain national and international coverage for our clients.

Kourtney Shaw