Journalists share thoughts on publicists in a down economy

A few weeks ago I posted a blog about the kinder gentler PR person phenomena. OK, quick recap. In last week’s Las Vegas Business Press, Valerie Miller wrote that PR people have become kinder and gentler in recent months since the economy fell into the toilet. She asked PR people (myself included) why we thought this was the case.

As I mentioned in my blog before the story came out, I was a little reticent to answer because I wasn’t even sure if this was true.

Once the story came out I started getting some feedback from journalists. Not all agreed with Valerie’s assertion that PR folks (not flacks) have taken a kinder tone.

Are PR people really kind and gentle, warm and fuzzy? I threw the question out there to some journalist colleagues. Here’s a bit of what came back to me.

One editor shared quite a bit of insight on the topic, “Based on my experience it’s half and half. Half are kinder, gentler and more responsive than I have ever seen.”

However, she said, “The remaining 50% have turned into a bunch of rabid and relentless whiners. In the last five or six months, we have started to get some pretty ridiculous pitches and when we say ‘no thanks’ they continue to push to the point of a credibility issue.”

A local broadcast journalist commented that the local publicists she has known for years continue to be very accommodating. However, she said publicists that are unfamiliar with the market, ones that do not know her from an editor in Yuma, those PR people have become more pushy.

One print journalist told me that she instantly deletes e-mails from publicists that have given her problems in the past; she won’t even open them.  She said she knows it is not worth the trouble to get the story done.

Another went on to say, “People who wouldn’t give me the time of day, before the recession, suddenly want to bend over backwards for me. It makes me even less fond of them, truthfully.”

One long time Las Vegas journalist shared this observation, in regards to the changing PR and media landscape.

“I have not noticed a detectable shift in how PR people treat me. They have always been professional and friendly to me. They do seem to understand how important it is to be patient, as over the years the industry’s growth has far outpaced the media. I think the symbiotic nature of what we do, too, places us in similar circumstances — both sides sink and thrive with the economy.”

As publicists, once we push too hard, we lose credibility.

One editor shared “Sometimes I wonder if they are getting a commission for each bad story they place or if someone is standing behind them with a gun to their head”

Ouch right?

What we should take away from this

Public relations is all about relationships. Journalists know when you are being fake and they despise having their time wasted.

Keep it real. Journalists read people every day, that’s part of their job. If you come off as a phony you’re not helping your client or yourself. Journalists aren’t going to do you or your client any favors when they are getting beaten over the head with a story.

Most importantly, take the time to do it right. Do more research; find the right story angle for the publication and the journalist you are pitching.


I will continue to post job openings on this blog so if you know of any, send them my way. I received this one yesterday. It looks like a great position for a creative individual. Best of luck!

The Jewish Federation of Las Vegas is looking for a qualified PR and Marketing professional. The JFLV is a dynamic non-profit organization that serves as the central coordinating body for fundraising, planning, allocations, and communal services for the Las Vegas Jewish community, one of the fastest growing in the North America.

The job involves PR, marketing, communications, public affairs and skills related to direct mail, telemarketing and e-philanthropy.  They would like someone who is assertive, aggressive and energetic to help JFLV establish a new look, offer more transparency and help it get the JFLV message and mission out to the community and donor public.  You do not have to be Jewish to apply. The position pays $40K to 60K depending on experience.

If you are interested, please send your resume and cover letter to Elliot Karp, JFLV president/CEO at


1 Comment

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One response to “Journalists share thoughts on publicists in a down economy

  1. A Print Journalist

    Great post. I can relate to much of what other journalists told you. To add my .02 cents, I would say that yes, PR people overall have been nicer. They’re also resorting to little tricks to get me to look at or respond to their pitches. People I’ve never heard of are e-mailing me and writing like we’re best buds. Some of those messages have “Re:” in the subject line, making it look like they are responding to something I sent. This makes it likely that I will open the e-mail but it’s also very likely that I will immediately trash it, too. I personally don’t respond well to the fake friend approach and I’m very good at identifying those who try it.

    Also, I’m getting a lot of e-mails and calls from PR people who want me to find the best recipient for their pitch, something I don’t have time to do. I will do it occasionally but don’t like it when I’m asked repeatedly. Maybe that’s a topic for another post, though.

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