Post Thirty Eight: A day among young PRs

Well … the event I describe in post Thirty One has been and gone.

I’m a little surprised at how fired up I got explaining how freelancers differ from staff journos to an audience of young PR people.

For those who did not make it, a summary:

  • We are micro-businesses, so don’t assume we can give our time as freely as a staffer who gets paid regardless of how many hours they work each week. If we are not working, we are not earning, so it takes a mighty good offer to lure us away from our desks
  • Be professional in every communication. That means identify yourself thoroughly on the phone. Spell check email. Pitch with specific angles, not a “we can’t convince the editor, maybe the freelance will have a crack” attitude. And remember we are micro-businesses, not staffers, so professionalism extends to understanding that someone who works from home does not have a courier dock for your unexpected deliveries!
  • Many IT freelancers are the gateway to the tech coverage for the publication they work for. My editor at My Business, for example, simply flicks me every IT related press release. So don’t try to go over our heads – you’ll irritate us and the editor. Likewise, don’t try to run something through us if the editor has said no already. You risk making us look like fools.
  • Treat us as you treat any tier one journo: we can see through it when you invite a freelance 48 hours before an event as a desperate attempt to bolster numbers
  • Do your research. I get a lot of pitches from people who clearly have not read the publications I work for or have not looked at the ways we cover things. Pitches within the guidelines are far more likely to get up than ideas that ask us to change a whole publication’s look and feel!
  • Remember that many freelances have been in the IT journalism caper for longer than you … and often longer than your clients! This means our BS detectors are very finely tuned. An example is a young PR I spoke to last week who was told by a client that one of its strategies is new. I was actually at the launch of the client’s first attempt to get into the space a decade ago
  • Did I say be professional? Seriously, this is the most important thing of all. If you carefully consider how to communicate in a manner that befits a communications professional, you’ll do much better.
  • Don’t be afraid to ask. Incredible quantities of PR pitches make big assumptions. Why not ask if something will fit, rather than suggesting it is a fit?
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