Many of today’s technology and business writers are time-poor. Recently we took an informal survey, asking key journalists how long it took them, on receiving a PR story or pitch, to decide whether to publish.
The answers averaged, wait for it… between five and 10 seconds!
As an executive journalist on the Australian Financial Review two decades or so ago, much of my time was spent trashing PR handouts. Eventually head-hunted by a PR agency that wanted someone who could actually write, it took me a while to reach an equilibrium.
Balancing the needs of a PR agency’s clients and journalists is key to the relationship and can lead to success or failure.
Since fewer journos are writing and editing more copy these days, we strive to give them what they need – clear, concise and relevant text devoid of adjectives or any hint of marketing hype.
On occasion, we have been known to apologise to media people for issuing releases from a client’s overseas HQ, which we are required to pitch unchanged. Who has the time or inclination to read a 200-word intro or decipher twin-deck headlines almost half as long? In such cases, we email a precis to grab their attention.
Today’s media receive an avalanche of material, good, bad and indifferent. PR acts as a filter between client and media, and the best agencies invest expertise and effort in ensuring that writers receive information in a format they find useful.
Imagine what life on the newsdesk would be like without that filter. A constant deluge of calls and emails from managers, marketing, communications and salespeople. A life of ceaseless, remorseless spam and jangling phones!
So, in technology and business sectors bursting with innovation and new ideas, being perceived as a reliable source of information is critically important in developing trust.
A good agency will apply our principles of short, sharp copy-writing across the entire communications spectrum. Disciplined writing is equally effective for social media, lead generation, advertising, presentations, speeches and more.
High class PR will leverage a client’s existing information. White papers, product briefs, brochures, blogs, ideas – a veritable wealth of information for sniffing out newsworthy items. An effective agency can transform all these into media clips.