Friday, April 24, 2009

A lesson for "media relations" folks

It's surprising to me how many "media relations" people have no clue how to serve the media. It started out with a terribly written press release, where the main details were muddled into long words and complex thoughts. I have 5 seconds to read this, I need it to be clear and concise, cutting to the meat of the story in one line. After I used my precious brain power to decipher the intricate codes of the release, I decided it was a good story and headed to the press conference.

I almost ran the other way when I realized there were more media relations people than press people. I guess I didn't get the memo that shouted - BORING. They were dressed in suits, skirts; then I heard the word dreaded most by broadcast journalists: power point. God help me, I thought to myself as I served some coffee, and looked for any other free items I could pillage.

The first mistake of the press conference was having FIVE SPEAKERS. Ok people, I need only a few 10 second soundbites to create my package of 30 second stories. The speakers talked for 40 minutes. I sat there and examined my cuticles, trying my hardest not to appear catatonic. Then came the power point, and it became an effort to stifle my irritation. I couldn't help yawning, and doodling on the fancy shmancy press packet. He threw out gigantic numbers and details that would only interest a mathmetician. I was so bored I almost started feeling sorry for this speaker, who was probably used to speaking to his colleagues. "The media" is a tough crowd.

I hate being bored. I have things to do. I'm on deadline. I need to grab what I can get within 15 minutes, and then onto the next story. This took an hour, then I found the two people who could give me the story, and did two 3 minute interviews. That is ALL I NEEDED. It turned out to be a good story, but it's too bad I had to go through torture to get it. That's all that's needed to convince a journalist never to cover events put on by these "media relations" people again.

Luckily, I got over my anger and wrote the press lady a nice email. I told her that press conference was way too long for broadcast media. It may have served the print folks, but media relations is all about relating to ME, giving ME what I need. They need to learn how to do please all forms of media, and I hope my email will help this media relations person understand that.


Travis said...

good for you! glad you wrote the PR person and told her.

seemab said...

"...Not a Memo... A Mission Statement."

Mike said...

Hey Kristin -

Just in case this was about the press event we both attended this week, please know that I had no role in planning it (It was done out of a completely different office.)

In fact, I also cringed when I realized what was happening!!

Kristin said...

Nope Mike, it wasn't that one I was referring to, but that office could take a lesson from this post as well. haha. I think after TWO events like that, I just had to blog about it.