Why I work with certain PRs – the journalist’s view with James Day

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Journalists can hold wildly opinionated views of the PR profession. It might be a misconception about what the job entails, how much senior staff earn or a forthright opinion about a pitch subsequently shared on social media – anyone sending an April Fool’s Day press release take note. Here’s my take on PR and why I only work with certain people.

 

I’ve been part of the press for 18 years and have always held the opinion we can’t do our job without PRs and they can’t do their job without us. One of those ‘them and us’ mentalities then? Well, not quite, at least not if both sides build a relationship.

 

I’m not going to sit here and blow smoke up the backside of every PR firm I’ve worked with. There was the time an account manager flat-out lied to my then editor about a fictitious conversation we’d supposedly had concerning a celebrity story. My editor sided with them and I remain apoplectic.

 

On the flip side, your honour, I imagine there has been the odd occasion where a story didn’t turn out how a PR might have imagined, leading to some rather searching questions from a client. In cases like this our list of reasons can be long and distinguished.

 

You can’t mitigate for deceit just like you can’t for journalistic license at the hands of an over-exuberant editor or chief sub, but a bond between PR and writer built on the foundations of loyalty and trust will always stand you in good stead.

 

 

I haven’t worked with the celebrity PR firm since and I guess it’s made me much more guarded about the people I do choose to deal with. There’s a golden circle and although Little Red Rooster isn’t alone in my mosh pit, it has been a constant menace, sorry presence.

 

I’m often asked why am I so close to the agency? Many reasons, but the people certainly. Vic and Henry were among the first to seek me out as a largely unknown entity at Metro many years ago. I found it refreshing company founders had done their research and wanted to get to know me. It takes time to build a proper relationship with people and I’ll always be grateful they invested the time.

 

Loyalty plays an important part here too. At times in my career when things weren’t going as planned it was notable to see certain PRs toss you to one side. I’m not precious about it – it’s business ­– but plenty stuck by me and strengthened ties as a result. Little Red Rooster was one of those and it didn’t go unnoticed.

 

As the agency has grown it’s been interesting to watch both bosses implement their approach to PR across a much larger team. It’s one packed with individuality and personality, but with a definite dose of Vic and Henry drummed into them.

 

It takes a special sort of person to become a rooster and buy into the brand identity. I should know, I joined the company for a year. Turns out it wasn’t for me, but with journalists and PRs being the best of enemies there’s a lot both could learn by gaining some experience on the opposite side of the fence… who knew ‘ROI’ stood for something other than the Republic of Ireland?

 

 

The brands Little Red Rooster works with are another strong suit. If a journalist is arguably only as good the publications he or she writes for, a PR agency is only as good as its clients. This is a very cut and dried view and kind of contradicts some earlier opinions, but like I also said, it’s business.

 

Ever since I’ve worked with Vic and Henry there has always been an eclectic roster of interesting and desirable brands promoting products deserving of coverage. The agency has also been keen for me to see things from a different angle, such as a unique design, feature or innovation. I never thought I’d find myself including a bath – albeit a very nice one – in Metro’s must-have technology Lust List.

 

Today is no exception and I’m looking forward to pursuing fresh opportunities in my new roles as editor of Cloud magazine and technology editor at large of Enki magazine, plus the other great titles I contribute to.

 

In summation then, the PRs I have the best relationships with are the ones that treat me like a person and not a commodity. Those who have taken the time to find out what makes me tick. Clue: It’s mostly Reading Football Club or the musical collective Massive Attack (they’re not a band) – I’m not that complex.

 

I believe you should value business partnerships like friendships and I’m looking forward to what the future holds with Little Red Rooster and everyone else in the golden circle.

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