PR Bunnies are getting a stuffing at the moment from various journalist blogs about bad pitches on stories – Charles Arthur obviously has some genuine grievances as he works in such a specialist area at The Guardian and its tech section. But Getting Ink has a similar shtick.
But I do wonder if they do protest too much. For those of you who subscribe to the various news feeds and online journalist query services you might wonder what the journalists actually think we do. And remember I was a journalist for many years – back in the day when all we had was notebook and shorthand, and actually went out to talk to people about their dead son, or decrepit council house dwellers about dog shit on the pavement, and do court and council.
They certainly don’t appear to think that PR is a profession aimed at managing the reputation of clients and their products and services. Indeed, judging by the requests below they seem to think that we have access to the sort of people the Red Tops usually have on their front page. And I don’t wish to point the finger at the Red Tops because we get similar requests from the broadsheets, women’s magazines and others.
Here are just a few of the genuine requests we have had from journalists currently on deadline:
Hi, we're looking for genuine members of the Mile High Club for a feature. They need to be in their 20s or early 30s and quite photogenic. We need a 15 minute phone interview with them about their experience - why did they do it, how was it, and would they do it again?
We also need a pic of them. We pay £100 on publication and £25 tip off fee.
Fantastic – If I was PRO at BA, EastyJet or RyanAir I would clearly think we have a solid media proposition here – NOT.
I would like to speak to women who have had at least two abortions. They can be photographed in silhouette and their identity can be protected. I need three women - one in her 20's, 30's and 40's. The case studies would be used along side a report of government figures that state an abortion is carried out in the
Fantastic – what a great opportunity for my client AbortionsRUs! I must get on the phone to this thrusting investigative journalist. What other seedy clients can I peddle - um?
Possible magazine feature on drugs and the physical harm.
Are you a woman of 25-35 who does or has taken coke? Has doing so damaged your nose causing septum erosion? How has this changed your life and are you still using despite this? Tell us your story by contacting…
For God’s sake we are a PR company … we’re still using by the way though, Shoot up anyone?
I'm looking for women in their 20s and 30s who've made a conscious decision to give up sex for a year or so because they are fed up of ending up with the wrong men, choosing blokes who only want sex but nothing more, or even having one night stands which they've later regretted. The idea is that these women are taking a breather from dating and sex to work out what they really want from a man and how best to get it. I'd require a telephone interview and studio photoshoot.
Give me strength.
Urgently looking for a holiday for x2 journalists for feature to be written later in the year. Full credits given
Presumably earlier holiday plans had gone awry. I don't know.
And yes they are all real. What happened to old-fashioned, get-up-and-go-find-a-story-for-you- self-school-of-journalism? I wonder what some editors and news desks would think if they knew their staff were doing this? Perhaps they do? Oh, and by the way we never, never, get these requests from regional newspapers.
Or perhaps this is just one of the inevitable by-products of the internet. Any views? I did a version of this post last year and the requests we are getting still continue to scrape the barrel. The Daily Mail is the worst by the way – I think I should make this a regular feature. Watch this space.
I suggest Worst News Trawl Of the Day. Should I include names?