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5 ways to…..annoy a journalist

Here's some no-nos when it comes to dealing with the press

Failing to deliver

If you over-promise and under-deliver this is a sure-fire way of destroying any relationship that you might have had with a journalist. Even if your client or boss lets you down in not being able to make a telephone interview or meeting, if you don't give the reporter adequate warning, they are the ones left with a space to fill in the magazine at very short notice. If you can't make a commitment, whether it's submitting a by-lined article in time to make a deadline, or taking part in a phone interview, at least provide some warning, so the journalist can make other arrangements.

Treating them like a best friend when you haven't even spoken to them never mind met

Being over-familiar in the first throes of the relationship probably isn't going to win them over. Keep initial emails polite and to the point, so you don't waste their time and make it clear what you can offer them and why it will make their job easier. Remember most journalists, especially freelance writers have little time, so make emails concise and short without them having to wade through pages of company speak.

Using poor grammar or typos in an email

Making a good first impression is vital, so addressing them by the wrong name as a result of bulk emailing or worse upsetting their sensibilities surrounding grammar or spelling is probably going to signal you going into their junk folder for the rest of eternity. Take care when crafting emails and take the time to re-read a couple of times before you hit 'send'.

Getting angry when they write something that you don't like

Occasionally you can find that what you thought was conveyed during an interview is NOT what appears when the final article is published. Although sometimes this can seem like the journalist's fault, because they've misconstrued or taken out of context what you have said, it really isn't going to help if you baul at them down the phone or send a snotty email. If what has been written is truly misrepresentative then the magazine may print a correction, but you have to weigh up the pros and cons of this. If it's going to upset or jeopardise your future relationship with the writer, is it really worth it? Sometimes mistakes are made, but often for the long-term it's more sensible to take this on the chin and move on.

And finally….not taking the time to read their magazine or column

If you don't know who or what type of articles or news that a magazine or freelance journalist publishes then you really shouldn't be contacting them in the first place. Do your homework. We know it's impossible to read every magazine from cover to cover or every article that a particular freelancer has ever written, but you need to know some basics. Familiarise yourself with at least who a magazine's target audience is, do they take by-lined contributions and what topics is the writer usually interested in. Take the trouble and effort to get to know some background before diving in, that way any contact you do have will produce higher returns.

 

 

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