In more than twenty years of writing, I’ve covered thousands of companies. If they will take the time to be interviewed by me, or respond to my emails, they gain free press. I’m sure many appreciate it. But very few ever say thanks.
What I do hear from them are minor complaints about a person’s title having been recently changed and could I update it. Instead of a little nod for writing two pages about them, they give me grief over a “he” being incorrectly represented as a “she.” Now the fact that the interviewee is called Narwanarishme or some other exotic name, you would think they might let me know the gender of the person. But I’m supposed to be all-knowing. They let me get it wrong and then immediately reach out with urgent demands to correct it or the world is likely to end.
I also get requests to add PR taglines into my article (that I intentionally edited out of the content they sent me), or insistence that I delete pricing information at once (that I asked them for, they refused to provide, and I found online via another source).
I will ask an editor to change an online article if there are genuine technical inaccuracies. But whether a person is the senior Vice President (SVP) or simply the VP matters to no one except the PR or the Senior VP. I won’t waste my editor’s time with such matters.
Yet some persist. They call, email repeatedly, and even go direct to the editor to get “Senior” added to the article. What they don’t realize is that by endlessly nagging about such subjects, they are convincing me to not ever contact them again for a story.
Perhaps they are catching flak from the Senior VP, or the “she” that was represented as a “he” (Indian names are a common source of this, though I’ve since figured out how to get it right – thanks, Google and LinkedIn). But no reader notices or cares about that tiny detail. Why go to war with a writer and burn a bridge? Yet many would prefer to do that than tell someone in the company to cool their jets.
Part of the confusion may be considering online magazines to be the same as corporate websites. I edit a print publication and almost never get any requests to correct errors, or change articles. It happens once in a blue moon. But online publications? You get such demands constantly. 99% are unimportant.
I’ve vainly tried to communicate this reality to many of the PR bulldogs that harass me. The only viewpoint they can ever see is that of their masters. Creating a negative impression on me doesn’t seem to concern them. It’s shocking to realize that a PR person could be so willing to antagonize a media outlet for something so trivial. Yet they defend it endlessly. I no longer try to enlighten them on the error of their ways.
1 If someone nags you about a very minor point in an article, explain to them to let it go. If they won’t, don’t use them again as a story source.
2. Only nag writers and editors about important factual technical or product information. Skip all the minor details.
3. Seek to build good relationships with writers and editors by not treating their publications as though they were your own website.
4. Once an article is published, send an unqualified thank you from time to time to the writer or editor.