Breaking news: Journalists find PR people annoying - sometimes

We conducted a survey in early December which revealed the PR consultancy habits that get under the skin of engineering journalists. The survey, entitled What Journalists Want, found that making pestering phone calls and sending irrelevant press releases were the two most annoying things that PR people commonly do.

Thirty three per cent of those sampled cited making pestering phone calls as the most annoying habit of PR consultants. “There are a few PR companies that send press releases over and then ring within one day to ask if you're going to use it; and when you say you haven't made a decision yet they keep calling until you have!” complained one engineering design journalist.  “Most (bad PR habits) I can live with, but calling me up to ask if I received a press release and whether I'm likely to use it is a particular irritation,” agreed another industrial sector reporter.

Stone Junction advises clients that in the engineering sector, only very important stories and feature work should be pitched in advance and following up general press releases should be avoided.

A further 33% of the sample stated that being sent irrelevant news stories was the top grievance for them. A lack of time and a lack of patience in time wasting PRs were commonly reported themes throughout the survey.

Just over 10% of respondents rated PR people’s lack of understanding of the concept of newsworthiness as the top irritant. “We don't have story quotas and we don't have magazine pages to fill so we're much more interested in quality content,” explained one online engineering journalist.

It’s important to understand why a particular story should be relevant to a particular publication. Know your target and their reader and understand the focus of each magazine; keep it relevant. If you can do this it’s much harder to make the basic mistakes this survey highlights.

A lack of client contact information was another common irritation with 19% of recipients indicating that this was the habit they found most annoying.  “An info@ e-mail address isn’t good enough because they never get answered,” warned a journalist from the security sector. “I received a good story from a PR company and wanted to ask a few questions on it - the contact details included an e-mail address, Facebook and Twitter pages, a blog and a website but no phone number!” another journalist commented.

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Stone Junction is a cool technical PR agency based in Stafford. We work for all sorts of businesses, with a particular focus on technology, technical and engineering companies. We like being sent cake and biscuits by clients, journalists and prospects.

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