29 March 2007

And in some countries, they still drown witches...

I read this over at Getting Ink this morning:

"A journo chum emailed us this morning to see if we too had noticed the increasing number of requests we’re getting from PR types to see our stories before we publish them. I thought about it and yes, I’m getting a few more of those requests. But I tend not to worry about it, because my default response to any request to see my copy before it’s filed is ‘sorry, no chance’."

I'm astonished. Does that seriously still happen? Who's doing it? Is it you?

If so, stop it now, you imbecile. What's that? It's your clients that want to see copy...it's not your fault..? Well find your balls and start consulting. Tell your clients that it doesn't work like that (unless, of course, they want to ruin relationships with hacks before they've even got them) and if they don't want to listen, tell them to try direct mail instead. Then they can spend all the time they want approving copy.

The rest of the Getting Ink post is worth a read too.


PR Baby said...

A few of my clients have got cold feet after a press interview. They're not sure that they've come across well, if their words will be altered by the journalist, or (more likely) that they didn't say the right thing in the first place. No wonder they give the old 'can I check the copy' line a shot.

And I don't think it's that surprising. After all, many PRs have been trained in the art of consultation by fear when it comes to prepping clients for press interviews. "Don't say ANYTHING you don't want in print" we say. "But NEVER say no comment". (Confusing). "Nothing is off the record" we add.

Don't get me wrong - it's important for the client to think about what they want to say before they pick up the phone to a journalist. But we run the risk of stifling our clients completely by scaring them into silence - and having them become banal, boring, always-on-message spokespeople - who the media don't want to talk to anyway.

What's most important is to properly prep your client before an interview. Explain that copy checking isn't an option, sure. But more importantly tell them what a journalist needs from them, and why. If a client can understand the wants and needs of the journalist and their editor, you're halfway there.

....the world's leading.... said...

You speak sense, PR Baby, no matter what anyone else says.

David Tebbutt said...

And if you want to know how to brief, when it's important, follow the links from my post yesterday:


David Tebbutt said...

Oh well, that link didn't work, did it. Let's try this:

Was Wired WaggEd?

....the world's leading.... said...

Crikey me Tebbo, you're not Ray Santilli - the self-styled Conspiracy Doctor - in disguise are you?

Great disguise though..!

Wickman said...

This mostly comes from the celeb pr industry where deals are struck for £££s so that the celeb gets approval and anything not sucky or licky can be struck off.

Then some idiot client's WAG or HAB says "get copy approval" and some marketing dolt dumps it on the PR agency.

IMHO if you simply tell the client its not done and only the idiots in Hello ever get approval and that's because Hello doesn't have an ounce of editorial self respect you tend to get some cut through.

Paul said...

pr_baby does speak sense, but surely we should be in an age now where clients don't need to be told that copy approval is a complete and utter no-no? But I agree, much of our media training revolves around semi-scaring spokespeople into remembering a set of techniques for question avoidance and teaching them to be on their guard for dirty journo tricks...and in reality...how many of us have been managing interviews when that has happened? It's simple, be yourself, have confidence in what you are saying and if you know that you're going out there to kid, bullshit or cajole the media, be prepared for the media to pick up on that and give you a hard time. As a shining example, when was the last time anyone heard a politician give a yes or no answer to a question on The Today programme?

Anonymous said...

The 'journo chum' is right about the increasing numbers of copy approval requests from PRs.

As wickman says, someone's cold feet about committing to publicity ends up getting dumped on the PRs desk. But what astonishes me is that it ever gets as far as the journo. From experience of being on the recieving end, these things can actually come up in an interview, after you've trekked across London and are sitting opposite a wholly useless pr and the corporate veep in their pod of a meeting room.

The problem is partly PR, partly tech related. Most big companies still sideline or gag their tech-savvy management, or worse still, give them enough rope to hang themselves. And too many interview requests aren't properly briefed or properly qualified. Only yesterday a head of department at a large City corporate told me his PR people would 'have him' if he was 'caught being quoted' without going through proper channels - I don't imagine that's too uncommon now.

But let's hope the stand-out people actually working in IT and not afraid to have an opinion don't let the fear of PR approvals get to them.

Andrew Smith said...

I've been surprised by the number of mags that ARE prepared to allow copy vetting - normally when it comes to case studies - they want decent names - big company says we'll do it but only if we get to see the copy. I say, highly unlikely, but I'll ask just in case - and, gosh, they say OK. And we aren't talking low profile titles. And to be honest, it is normally just to make sure things like product names, numbers, etc are right.

Personally, I've always been anti-copy vetting, but if the mags are prepared to do it......