PR Etiquette

Those of you who have attended our PR workshop or WPE seminar will be familiar with Paula from Do your own PR. She provides honest & sensible advice for small businesses empowering them to do their own PR. After all – no one has the passion or knowledge for a business like an owner. Paula will be providing tips and advice for us on a monthly basis and this month we are featuring a small section from her new book.

E is For


PR Etiquette that is. Believe it or not, but there is an acceptable way to approach the press. A lot of it just boils down to old-fashioned good manners, just like any other form of communication, but it’s worth just going over the basics.

If you get a journalist on the phone, it’s polite to ask if now is a good time to speak. If it isn’t, ask when would be a good time to call back. If you just blather on with your pitch and they’ve got an editor breathing down their neck over a deadline, they’re never going to pay it the attention it deserves, so give yourself the best shot you can.

Again, just like making friends, you can’t rush these things. As owner and editor of I get a lot of PR people phoning me up and my pet hate is someone that launches into gush speak, asking how I am like a long lost friend. It puts me on the wrong foot, as I’m silently thinking, “Who is the person. Have I lost my mind and forgotten them?” Actually, from their point of view, I’d be better off concentrating on what they say.

It’s polite to have actually read the publication that you’re pitching to, but it’s amazing how many people don’t. It’s even better if you can actually comment on something that came out in a recent edition to show that you’ve not only read the publication but also something that they have personally written.

If a journalist leaves you a message respond to them as soon as possible. Leaving a journalist hanging only means that they will go on to the next person on their list, and mark you off as hard to reach for the future.

It’s always better to send a journalist a hand-crafted personal message rather than a round-robin email sent to 200 contacts.

If you’ve promised a journalist something and it falls through, let them know as soon as possible so that they can find something to fill the space.

Never leave messages if you’re just cold calling a journalist. First, it allows them to ignore it. Second, once you’ve left two or more you start to sound like a stalker.

If you are responding to a media request it’s polite to keep to topic.  By all means send them stuff in future, as long as you know that what you are doing/selling is relevant to them. There’s no sense in building up a completely non-targeted media list just for the sake of it.

If a journalist covers you, say thank you. You don’t have to gush; just a straight-forward thanks can make all the difference.

Get their name right! Double check if you have to, and if you don’t know how to pronounce it, just come out with saying something like “… that’s a really unusual name, how do you pronounce it properly?”

We hope the tips are useful and if you’re hooked and want to invest in the book, it’s available here Do Your Own PR



1 Comment

  1. Alina Lita on 4th July 2009 at 3:12 pm

    Thank you, Kelly!
    The post is really instructive. Some of the tips are indeed common-sense, but having them all written down makes them even more powerful.


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