28 Jun 2024

PR Tips & Tricks: Eminem’s take on Jay Rayner’s letter to PR

This week, in an open letter to the PR profession, restaurant critic Jay Rayner lamented the pitches and follow-ups that he says have been driving him nuts for a long while now. Some will argue that this comes as little surprise, given that according to Muck Rack, there are now roughly six PR pros for every journalist.

Others take a less sympathetic approach to the woes of the PR.

In response to Rayner’s letter, Spreckley’s Adam Hartley, someone who has seen both sides of the PR and journalist relationship, shares his words of wisdom on the matter. Adam is a former games and technology journalist and currently the Creative Director at Spreckley.

So I read that open letter by Jay Rayner earlier this week, and it just made me think: “yep, a perfectly reasonable point, well made.” 

It seems to be such an obvious thing to point out to anybody working in public relations but there are a couple of dos and don’ts that have always stood me in good stead on both sides of the industry.

Step one: My Name Is

Some people will tell you PR is all about networking, but there’s more to it than introducing yourself to as many people as possible.

Don’t target journalists that aren’t relevant to your client and/or who are highly unlikely to have any interest in the story you’re pitching. Taking the time to tailor the list you’re sending a pitch to will be worth it in the long run.

Step two: Lose Yourself

Once you’ve put the time in to curate a list of journalists that are relevant to your client and who might be interested in the story you’re pitching, hone your pitch, because as Eminem so wisely advises us you generally have one shot or one opportunity (to get their attention).

Step three: Stan

Unless you have a solid pre-existing relationship with any of the journalists you’re pitching, please don’t keep sending them mindless “just bringing this to the top of your inbox” follow-up emails. It comes off a little obsessive.

Okay maybe ONE follow-up, to a small number of those journalists who you really strongly believe will run the story. Not multiple follow-ups to a mass list or email database you’ve downloaded from your preferred journalist database. This is the worst type of spray-and-pray PR tactic and will only irritate a lot of journalists. Plus, if you’re really unlucky and catch them on a bad day, they might publicly shame you on Twitter. Or they may even write a scathing open letter to PR Week about you.

And yet… and yet…. I still see PRs commenting on the Jay Rayner letter on LinkedIn, bleating: “But sometimes I put a lot of time and effort into researching the best target journalists, and then I put time and effort into honing my pitch, and still the journalist doesn’t have the courtesy to respond.”

How to put this politely? It’s not a matter of courtesy. The journalist isn’t choosing to ignore you. They have HUNDREDS of email pitches in their inbox. A small number of these will be developed into news or feature stories. The vast majority will not be.

Or, to put is less politely. Get. Over. Yourself.