Rant No. 3 from "Publisher Politis" — Stop Pretending You Actually Want to Talk with Journalists, Let Alone be Helpful

It's okay if your firm doesn't actually want to talk to, or work with, journalists. That's one of the benefits of being in a free country. Just don't pretend otherwise.

Rant No. 3 from "Publisher Politis" — Stop Pretending You Actually Want to Talk with Journalists, Let Alone be Helpful
Photo by KristiansFoto (man-6995688_1920); photo downloaded from Pixabay 20 May 2024.

One of the great things about living in the United States is the fact that we have a "Free Press," as guaranteed in the First Amendment of the Bill of Rights.

Simply put, one of the key points of the First Amendment is that anyone can publish virtually anything about anyone or anything at anytime ... within the boundaries of the law ... including no lying / libelous statements.

As a corollary, one can also suggest that the First Amendment also guarantees that if an individual or organization doesn't want to talk with, or cooperate, with "the media," one cannot be compelled to do so.

As someone who has been actively involved with, or a member of, "the media" for my entire career, I wholeheartedly agree with and support both guarantees.

However, I do have a bone to pick with certain organizations, executives, and/or the PR/Marketing people who work with/for them.

Specifically, IF you are going to publicly distribute news releases, either please

  • Include full contact information on said releases, or
  • Do not.

That is your choice.

Just understand that if you do NOT include full contact information on news releases you're communicating to me that you really don't want to talk with me or help me with a story I might be thinking about producing about your organization.

And that's fine. I believe it's even your constitutionally guaranteed right.

Simply put, this is Rule No. 1 on the Journalist Side of the Equation when it comes to media relations and working with PR people and Investor relations people too.

And to be clear, this is not me just being a cranky old fart, as this rule applies to any professional journalist.

That said ...

Don't pretend either.

Pretend? Yeah, pretend.


By publishing a news release that includes generic contact information, such as

  • No actual name of a real person,
  • No phone number of that person, and/or
  • No email address of a real person.

Organizations that publish contact info that looks like this —

PR Department, PR@XZYcompany.com, 801-555-1234

— really don't want to talk with a journalist. Ever!

Either that, or they really don't understand the some of the fundamentals of media relations.

To be clear, I've lost track over the past month of the number of news releases I've read that break this Rule of Thumb.

So, for any company execs out there, if you have a PR gal or guy who tell you that they don't need to include actual contact info with each news release, don't believe them.

In fact, share this OpEd with them.

Conversely, if your PR agency tries to tell you you can/should use generic/non-specific contact info in a news release, they should be fired.

Why? Because it's clear they don't know what they're talking about.