Petting the reptiles, or how to be nice to the press.

DSC_7702wbNo, not these three, they are as warm and human as they come. This is the open day at Adare Machinery, a text book case of how to get it right in public relations.

I’m not a great fan of social media generally but I do participate a little on Linkedin in the  hope that one day some profit may come of the time I spend there, but alas, there are no great rewards evident as yet. However, there is the occasional item that crops up that is worth noting and one such was by a US based journalist who gave us another list of do’s and don’ts when it comes to conducting ourselves through life and in this case it was what not to say when sending out press releases to us reptiles (© Private Eye).

There were a good many comments made on her article many of which asked what they should actually be saying and the lady has indicated that she will answer that question in due course. In the meanwhile I thought I might add a few remarks as to how to get a journalist on board as opposed to simply contact one.

To my mind the first and most important thing you can do is to show some genuine enthusiasm for your product or cause. This can be infectious and writers like to be all gee’d up if only because it helps inspire them when it comes to forming the words that will introduce or describe your business. I experienced a classic example recently when tractor company A (Valtra) went to some lengths to procure an image of a vintage machine for an article I was writing that wasn’t even one of their forebears. On the other hand tractor company B (who shall remain nameless, but they are big and you know them) sniffily pointed out that they don’t have pictures of their ‘heritage’ machines available and even if they did they don’t have the resources to manage them! And that was over a month after I first approached the press department!! Now it doesn’t take a genius to work out which of the two actually came across as taking an interest in their own industry, so hats off to Valtra and AGCO generally for making the effort, it will be remembered in a very positive way.

A second way to keep a journo happy is to ensure that they have access to figures within the organisation that have positions of responsibility rather than just the marketing department. This will of course depend upon the cooperation of said figures which may not always be forthcoming but if the managers don’t want to sell the company and its activities why should anyone else bother? Kauko Pylvas, the MD of Allu Buckets, spared the time to show me around his factory where I was genuinely impressed by the company, its staff and its attitude, he now has a firm friend and attentive ear in the trade press. Compare and contrast with those that go hiding in the shrubbery when their organisation has a story breaking around it, such evasiveness is just counter productive at best and at worse, well, I’ll let folk reflect on the various scandals that have gone unanswered by companies in the food industry of late.

A further and equally important way of keeping the press happy is to respect their integrity. We are all well aware that the words ‘press’ and ‘integrity’ often stand in direct contradiction in many peoples minds but away from the tabloids and more sensational periodicals there is a lot of good honest hard work being done to inform readers of matters that are of interest to them. The magazines I write for have to be seen as independent from external influences such as big advertisers if they are to be respected, and if they lose that respect then the big advertisers also lose because nobody is taking serious note of the magazine they have corrupted and their efforts are wasted. Being obliging to both sets of customers, the advertisers and the readers, can be a fine line for editors to tread and businesses need to remember this.

These are just three of the major ways in which the press can become a friend of companies and other organisations, it’s not just a question of slap up dinners and fancy hotels, just a recognition that we to have a job to do as well and are often very busy ourselves.

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