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Overbearing PR?

Discussion in 'Journalism topics only' started by Golazo21, Dec 13, 2011.

  1. Golazo21

    Golazo21 Member

    I apologize profusely if this or a similar topic has been covered in another thread.

    Anyway, I recently did a standard offseason analysis piece on the pro team I regularly cover wherein some questions were raised about who's coming back and who's not. Nothing groundbreaking. I referenced a couple players who's contracts were up at the end of the month, and noted that they may not be coming back based upon their minimal roles in 2011.

    So, about a day or two after it was published, the team's PR person contacts me and says, "The team re-signed Player X and Y earlier this month." Mind you, the team did not issue a release on these re-signings. In fact, they still haven't. But, OK, whatever. Somebody obviously forgot to send a release on the signings.


    "As you move forward in writing, I really suggest double-checking some facts or rules that you may think you know at times. Relying on message boards and off-hand conversation doesn’t help with accurate info all the time, nor does it help your reputation of having full information and being a reliable source of info for fans alike."

    Now, this is not the first time that this kind of "advice" from the PR person in question. Nor am I the only writer covering this team that has received similar e-mails containing these nuggets of journalism wisdom. As a part-timer (I cover the team for a national media entity) who's only beat has been this team, is this the norm for team PR to reach out writers in such fashion, or is this really out of the ordinary?
  2. Sounds like the guy is being a dickhead. However, I would say, "Gee, I must have missed the release on the re-signing of the players? I didn't see it in the archives on your web site. What was the date of the release?"

    When he says there wasn't one, then you can tell him, "Oh, that's why I didn't see it when I was fact-checking their status."
  3. lcjjdnh

    lcjjdnh Well-Known Member

    Hate to agree with the PR person, but don't really see how he is wrong here. Maybe a bit over-the-top in his tone--not sure he needed to throw in the gibe about relying on message board rumors--but right, for the most part, in substance. Taking the absence of a press release to mean these events didn't occur seems like faulty logic. Easily could have avoided the mistakes by calling or e-mailing the PR person first.
  4. Moderator1

    Moderator1 Moderator Staff Member

    This is NOT all on the team - does it always issue a release when it re-signs a player? Did you ask if the players had been re-signed? If you did not ask, then it is on you.

    Don't rely on them to tell you stuff. Ask.Ask. Ask some more.
  5. Johnny Dangerously

    Johnny Dangerously Well-Known Member

    Thanks for the note. Much appreciated. You make a good point. I have no doubt you would have confirmed the information for me had I asked you. I have your office phone and email listings. I'd like your cell number, please. In the Internet age there is a lot of fact-checking necessary after regular office hours. I don't want to use bad timing as an excuse. How late is too late to call?

    Thanks for offering to help.
  6. Mizzougrad96

    Mizzougrad96 Active Member

    Yeah, you were in the wrong, but he was a condescending dick about it.
  7. Mizzougrad96

    Mizzougrad96 Active Member

    A lot of teams don't announce signings at all.
  8. Golazo21

    Golazo21 Member

    Yes, it does. Except this time. My luck, right?

    I appreciate everyone's replies. It appears I have leaned on the team too heavily on the team to provide info, especially in this instance. In the future, I'll certainly ask, ask, and then ask some more (as Moderator1 suggested), even if it seems that the information is already obvious.

    Rookie mistake.

    I just wish he hadn't made the assertion that I fact check through message boards and such. To me, there's no need. A simple "BTW, you missed it, but we re-signed these players. If you have any questions, feel free to get in touch, yada yada yada" would've sufficed. It seems his MO is to belittle a writer when he/she makes a mistake.
  9. Johnny Dangerously

    Johnny Dangerously Well-Known Member

    Here is an enjoyable PR story:

    More than a month before the annual football game between two state rivals (let's call one Fill Night U, the other Beaver Cleaver State), we sent a letter of inquiry about credentials for our little twice-weekly. Last year, when the game was played at Beaver Cleaver State, we did the same and received two credentials and a parking pass in the mail within a few days of asking.

    This year the game was at Fill Night U. By Nov. 2, we had not heard anything, so we wrote again. Nothing. Meanwhile, the local Division III team qualified for the playoffs, as usual, and one of our high school teams made it to the state semifinals. Both played on the same day as the big rivalry down the road. Having not heard anything, we figured we'd been shut out. No biggie. We made plans to cover what we could that day.

    Then, at 1:13 p.m. the day before the game (which kicked off less than 24 hours later), we got an e-mail saying our credentials would be waiting at will call.

    Our plans were in place at that point, and we didn't change them. The following Monday, we wrote to explain why we didn't attend. Some places will refuse to credential you if you get credentials for a game and don't use them, so we wanted to explain that after not hearing anything from the school for almost a month, and not until 23 hours before kickoff, we made plans to cover the other games and not that one. This is the reply we received from the nice PR lady:

    "Thanks for the explanation. We don’t ever make credential decisions for media until the week of the game. This has always been our policy. In the future, I would suggest you plan accordingly."
  10. micropolitan guy

    micropolitan guy Well-Known Member

    JD that's why they're the dark side and Land Grant State Univeersity is the U of the people ... ;D

    As to the original post, yes, the PR guy was a dick and could have been far more diplomatic but it never hurts to double-check. Of course, I fail to understand why the team wouldn't publicize its signings, on some platform on its website and in the daily newspaper, but ...

    Freakin' PR flaks, I tell ya ...
  11. Johnny Dangerously

    Johnny Dangerously Well-Known Member

    Watch it, now. Some of my best friends are ...
  12. Golazo21

    Golazo21 Member

    A story similar to JD's happened with the same PR person a couple of years back. The team was conducting preseason practices, so I e-mailed him a couple of days in advance saying I'd be going to Tuesday's practice. I didn't get a response, even after a follow-up e-mail. So, I assumed that it was either closed to the media or it was cancelled. Later on Tuesday I got an e-mail asking why I didn't show up. I explained there was no response to my e-mail requesting the OK, to which he said "if you don't get a response, it means you're OK."


    I guess I should chalk these episodes up to one of the most accurate pieces of advice I ever received from one of my favorite journalism professors: "PR people are bad. Baaaaaaad!"

    ***Present company excluded, of course*** :)
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