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Whining about PR.

InternetWeek’s Mitch Wagner complains about PR people without a clue: “It seems to me that most of the PR people I deal with are focused on getting me to meet with their client, rather than trying to convince me to write articles about their client.” (link thanks to Phil Gomes’ G2Blog)

In the past four years that I’ve been a freelancer, I have become very good at turning down meeting requests. That’s because I’m not on salary, so every hour I spend meeting with your client is an hour that I’m not getting paid for. Makes it pretty easy to say no.

The only time I’ll agree to a meeting is when it is directly related to a story I’m working on (not the one I just published last week, either), and when a face to face meeting is the best way to get the information or flavor I need for the story.

Relationship building? I used to believe in it, but that was before I learned that PR meetings almost never lead to relationships of any kind. In ten years of such meetings, I can count exactly two people I am still in touch with. What goes wrong with the rest of the meetings? Everything: There’s rarely any follow-through after the meeting. The next time the company goes on tour it’s almost never with the same individuals. Executives rarely give out their real email addresses, and if they do they’re often too busy to reply, so the only person you have a chance of forming a relationship with anyhow is the flack (who is often working with a completely different client six months later).

I make better contacts at trade shows, frankly, where you can sip a beer with someone and they’ll still remember your name a week or two later.

Mitch adds: “PR people sometimes wonder why reporters think they’re idiots. This is because most of them ARE idiots.”

You may also be wondering why reporters seem like such assholes. That’s because most of us ARE assholes. It’s a defensive strategy, and a useful one, I’m afraid.


  1. bob smith

    So do you think that networking is useless too?
    Dumb question from a newbie..but how do you get your gigs?

  2. Dylan Tweney

    No, networking is not useless. I’m probably overreacting… I have made many useful and enjoyable connections during 10+ years of doing tech journalism. But most of those connections have come about because of a specific story, or a trade show meeting, or some kind of in-person event — rarely because of a PR-driven meeting.

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