By: Zenaida Gonzalaez Kotala
UCF News & Information
January is usually a time for resolutions, a time we all promise ourselves to find ways to improve our personal or professional lives. This year I promised myself to be a little more organized when it comes to paperwork. I’m extremely organized when it comes to campaigns and strategies, but that pesky paperwork tends to get stacked and neglected. It always costs me hours or work hunting down forms and such, which I could avoid if I had taken the time to organize it all in the beginning of the year.
So I set up my files and am ready to roll. The move got me thinking about what veterans in our profession might suggest as potential New Year’s resolutions. So I decided to ask a few friends to give me their suggestions. Then I asked some of my friends who are working journalists to suggest what they’d like to see from us. I also asked a few local reporters who I work with to give me their two cents.
From the public relations side I heard several suggestions from “becoming better jugglers” to “engaging in more social media.” From journalists it was a lot about “less spinning” and “doing research before pitching a story.”
Rather than give you a long narrative, check out selected responses from the two points of view. I think there are probably some lessons here from both sides of the house.
From the PR perspective:
Joe Manio, Canadian public relations firm
“Do more proactive image-building, to be better placed in case of a need for crisis management.”
Jamie Floer, FPRA member
“Stay current on the tools and trends that apply to my industry niche … To provide journalists good, targeted, truthful, easy-to-use information in a timely manner. Their role as the fourth estate has remained a constant is our society – the only difference is that time element, which we all struggle to meet with accuracy and integrity.”
From the journalism perspective:
Susanne Cervanka, Asbury Park Press
“PR people need to resolve to not use automated systems to develop their email lists. All they gain is a first-class ticket to my junk folder since I block everyone who sends emails that start “Dear [name]/scervenka/Cervenka, Susanne. Also, just because it’s in the same state does not mean it’s ‘local news’ to me.”
Pia Christensen, Managing Editor/Online Services at Association of Health Care Journalists
“First, before you pitch me, pay close attention to what I’m interested in. Read our website and follow me on Twitter and you’ll get a good idea. I get dozens of off-topic pitches everyday. Second, if you send out a press release via email, be sure to post that press release online first and include a link in your email. It strongly increases the chances that I might share it.
Lizette Wilson Chapman, Tech and VC reporter for Dow Jones
“No last minute embargo changes. No ‘take back’ quotes from seasoned interviewees and no emails that are more than 4 sentences.”
Frank Oliveri, Defense and Foreign Policy Writer for Congressional Quarterly
“Stop viewing the press as both a threat and a venue all at once. Don’t stonewall us on basic information but then be upset with us when your pitches, blatantly self-serving, fall on deaf ears…”
Kevin Spear, Orlando Sentinel
“Be honest, be real. The world is full of ups and downs and surprises. So when public relations strives to always put a bright spin on matters, my gut nags me that not all is right and good with organization X. I feel compelled to suspect and seek out the guilty and it’s only a matter of time management whether I do investigate organization X and put its story on the front page of my newspaper. This may not be true for all reporters, but I value and respect honesty, frankness, confidence and a willingness for an organization to sometimes proactively say something didn’t go well.”