If you’re looking to hire a PR firm, and they suggest their deep relationships with journalists will be of benefit to you, that’s when you should show them the door.
Regardless of the size of their Rolodex, seasoned PR practitioners do not use those media contacts to sell their services. They know those long-term professional relationships are more important to them than the short-term needs of any client. They understand that success in media placement is based on what they know, not on who they know.
And “what they know” is how reporters think, and what they need. This insight enables PR pros to ferret out appropriate news and ideas. To package that information so that it’s not self-serving. To present story ideas in an appealing manner. To push back or disagree with reporters and editors when it’s called for. And to NEVER pitch a reporter solely based on their relationship with them.
Conversely, seasoned journalists do not cover news or accept story ideas from flacks simply because they’ve shared a few beers or worked with them previously. A reporter’s reputation is too important to compromise by covering items that don’t meet their editorial standards or address the interests of their readers or viewers. On a personal level, journalists also don’t appreciate the implication that they can be influenced by someone with an agenda.
PR firms that leverage media relationships to pitch substandard content are playing a losing game. Companies led to believe they’ll gain from their PR firm’s media contacts are simply being played.