Apparently, anyone can be a “communications consultant” (often also known as a public relations manager). It seems to be the easiest way to give somebody a job, even if they know nothing about communications and one isn’t sure who they are consulting. After all, how difficult can it be to deal with pesky journalists and send out a few press releases? That can’t be too hard, right? Well, here are a few tips, born out of frustration
1. DON’T call a newsroom 15 minutes before news time to ask if we’re covering some function or the other. I don’t care if your workday ends at 5. Ours doesn’t, and the last hour before news time is the busiest time of the day. NOBODY has time to deal with non-essential calls (especially from people whose job titles suggest they should know better).
2. DON’T promise more than you can deliver. This is especially true of PR people dealing with overseas guests. They promise you an interview, then can’t deliver. ALL THE TIME.
3. DON’T ask me for a list of the questions I am going to ask in a live interview. An interview is just that, an interview, not a rehearsed piece.
4. DO act as if you actually understand the concept of deadlines. Yes, that issue of time again. It’s actually a big thing with us.
If I need a comment or a guest for a newscast or programme TODAY, calling me back tomorrow won’t help. Calling me ten minutes before the programme usually won’t help either. By that time, I would have found another guest. Dead air isn’t an option. Of course, the answer will sometimes be no. Just respond!
5. DO educate yourself about the programme and host before calling to ask for an interview. Don’t call me and then start asking who is the host, or what kind of programme it is.