My dear friends in the public relations, media relations and event planning professions,
Quite a few of you are probably journalism-school graduates and have heard of Stuff Journalists Like . Now, meet Stuff Journalists Don’t Like. I mean, really, really don’t like.
If you want us to cover your event, please try to avoid the following depressingly common screw-ups, all of which have happened to me or the magazines I write for over the past month or so. If you are guilty of any of the following and members of the media did show up, you are either the star candidate of a major political party, or you got lucky.
1) Please do not send a press release on a Friday at 7 p.m. for an event that starts the following morning at 9. Breaking news is of course an exception, but for an event that has been planned for months this is ridiculous.
2) On the flipside, if you send a release eight weeks in advance, it may get lost in the pile. If you do this, send a follow-up a week or two before to remind us.
3) If you send us a release telling us an event will take place “sometime this month” please follow up with the actual date a few days before– not AFTER THE FACT for heaven’s sake.
4) Please do not expect us to pay admission fees to events we are supposed to be covering. We are simultaneously doing our job and doing you a favour; we pay for the privilege of neither.
5) If you are organizing a charity gala or a similar event and can’t or don’t want to feed us for free, just tell us to come after dinner. No hard feelings. If you say “Pay or don’t come!” we most likely won’t come.
6) As an organizer, you should contact media organizations yourself rather than telling volunteers or participants, “Oh, by the way, if you know any journalists, give them a shout.”
7) Get to know the publishing schedule of any non-daily media. Write to us, we’ll write back. The Chronicle-Telegraph goes to press Monday and comes out Wednesday. If you ask us on a Monday to print a quick little advance for your event for Wednesday’s paper, you are out of luck.
8) Make an effort to avoid badly spelled, badly punctuated or badly translated press releases. Journalists are journalists because they are grammar dragons.
9) Resist the temptation to hold major events out in the middle of nowhere. If it takes journalists 15 minutes to get there, they’ll probably go take a look even if the event is relatively inconsequential. A major campaign announcement inside a van on the edge of a closed park completely inaccessible by mass transit (*cough* Liberal Party of Quebec *cough*) makes no sense whatsoever.