10 Yetis Insight Blog - Lost in PR and Journalist Translation


18th Feb 2013

There are certain words passed between journalists and PR people that sound like one thing and mean something else entirely. If you work in either industry, you’ll probably know only too well what phrases I’m referring to. Just in case you work in a totally different field though, let me explain more.

Working in PR doesn’t just involve writing press releases and trying to get coverage for clients. What they don’t tell you when you’re starting out on your path to public relations success, is that the very success you’re aiming for can depend entirely on your ability to phrase things in a certain way and decipher what a journalist is trying to tell you. Well, when it’s not just “F*ck off you poor excuse for a PR professional” that is; that’s pretty easy to work out and no translation is required.

So, here are a few things commonly said by PR people and journalists that sound like one thing and mean something completely different. Hopefully, these useful translations will help you on your way, so there’s no confusion over what means what:

Said by a journalist, to a PR person

• “I’ve put it up to the editor, so it’s out of my hands.”
Translation – “I haven’t got the heart to tell you that the story is sh*t and won’t get coverage. Anywhere, in fact.”

• “The sub editors must have taken the client mention out, sorry!”
Translation – “There was no way your client was ever getting a mention.”

• “Can I have it exclusively? We might run it then.”
Translation – “We probably won’t run it, but we don’t want anyone else to either. Plus, just in case we do decide to use it, we don’t want other papers to have it.”

• “Sounds good. Send it to < insert generic editorial email address here > and if someone likes it, they’ll get back to you.”
Translation – “It doesn’t sound good and I want to get you off the phone right now. Send it to this generic email address that nobody monitors and it’ll be completely ignored.”

• “It’s not one for me, but send it on to Brian – he loves stories like this.”
Translation – “I wouldn’t run this in a million years and neither would Brian. Send it to him though, because he’s possibly the most evil journalist in the land and I want to have a bit of a giggle about the fact he’ll probably give you an earful of abuse.”

• “We’ve changed our editorial policy and can’t cover stories like that anymore I’m afraid.”
Translation – “I really hate you. Get off the phone. Your story is about as good as the time I was eating candy floss at the zoo and an escaped gorilla tried to kill me/eat my candy floss.”

• “Sure, I can make that meeting/event.”
Translation – “I almost certainly can’t make it. Tell your client I’m coming though, just to get their hopes up.”

• “I can’t see that release you’re talking about in my inbox. Send it again and I’ll have a look.”
Translation – “I get approximately 1.3 billion emails every day and probably deleted yours instantly. Send it again, just so that I can take pleasure in hitting ‘delete’ one more time without even opening it.”

• “We might do something with that release, yeah.”
Translation – “We probably, definitely, might not be using that release.”

• “Yes, a comment from your client on that topic might be useful. Send something over.”
Translation – “Go away and spend ages getting your client to draft something and we’ll add it to the pile of about 100 other comments we’ll receive, then we’ll leave it there forever more and do nothing with it.”

Said by a PR person, to a journalist

• “I know you’re probably really busy and I won’t keep you long...”
Translation – “I know you hate it when PR people follow up releases, but it is part of my job and I have to do it. Please don’t hate me/hang up.”

• “I was just calling to see if the press release I sent through this morning might be something you could use.”
Translation – “Please use my press release, pretty please? I’ll sign my first born over to you if you write just a few words with a client mention. Kthanksbye.”

• “I was just calling to see if you needed any more information further to the release I sent this morning, like extra comment or a supporting image.”
Translation – “I’m phoning you because I can’t help but notice that you haven’t run my press release yet and it’s really, really good. Honestly!”

• “Sure, we have pictures. I’ll send some over now.”
Translation – “No, I didn’t think to sort out images to go with this story. Sweet Baby Jesus, please let there be something suitable on iStock.”

• “Of course, it’s no problem for me to get that extra information for you. I’ll send it over now.”
Translation – “You didn’t read the press release properly, did you? Everything you asked for is in it, so now I’m just going to copy and paste parts of it and sent it back to you.”

• “I’m sorry - I don’t know how I ended up sending that story to you if it isn’t relevant.”
Translation – “I am going to shout at the media database company.”

• “I’ll try to find a case study for you now.”
Translation – “I don’t have a case study. I might ask someone I know to pretend for me. Until then, I just want to keep you happy and would hope you’ll run the story anyway.”

• “ We might have some budget for advertorial, sure.”
Translation – “Will our client get a live followed link? If so, maybe.”

• “Apologies – I must have sent you an earlier draft of the press release.”
Translation – “Bugger, that typo got left in despite 3 levels of internal and client approval. Oops.”

• “I was wondering if you could add a client mention into the story you’ve run online, as it appears to have been dropped.”
Translation – “Add a client mention, right now, or it’ll be like that time in Friends with ‘Red Ross’.”

The End

What a journalist might look like going crazy on the phone to a PR.


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