Monday, August 17, 2009

Press officers

A few years ago when I worked on a newspaper I found myself in the office of a press officer of a large hospital. On the wall was a list of all the stories I had written - and one or two by other people - rated according to whether they were positive or negative about the hospital. Sadly most were negative.

I believe that's the way professional media relations people work. They tot up column inches and subtract the negative from the positive.

I wonder how people like that are coping with the 21st century. My feeling is that many are coping badly. Chatting to professionals sometimes you find it is not their fault. Often their bosses are more concerned about whether they appear in The Times or some prestigious local paper than if they are really getting the message out.

This is a longish preamble to the fact that I am using the dog days of August to tidy up our own list of contacts, in particular I am chasing down those people who have ceased to send us stuff , have never contacted us or have failed to respond to previous requests. In time I may even name and shame.

Because Englemed is a new-fangled beast, a web-based agency, created from scratch on the web, not everyone takes us seriously. Some are more comfortable dealing pretty well solely with the Press Association and the BBC - with Reuters and the national newspapers on an occasional basis. After all we have only been around for, well, longer than a decade.

Sometimes the opposite happens and an energetic press officer moves from one job to another taking their contacts list with them and we find ourselves getting news from an entirely new source. Too often, sadly, the opposite happens and news just dries up, often from quite busy organisations. Someone's had a "tidy up" and we mean nothing to them - they may not even have worked in the health and medical sector before.

Who loses? They do, because they lose the chance to convey stories to a large audience and often we can pick up those off-beat stories that do not make the national "press".

No comments:

Post a Comment