Tuesday, October 15, 2013

“Shane” on You: A Perfect Example of Why the Media Continues its “Flack Attack”

There was I, excited to read another PR professional’s musings on why journalists give us a hard time when it comes to pitches, follow-up emails, do not call times and other various gripes. I was eager for the advice.

Instead I found myself agreeing with the so-called “other side” of  the communications industry. Written by Andy Shane, a PR professional whose resume and personal webpage feels a little light, his recent CommPRO.biz article violated several critical rules if our (PR) industry and our clients are to be taken seriously.

So move aside Andy Shane, here are mine:

Rule #1

Get to the point – fast. At nearly 800 words, Shane’s article does a lot of rambling, repeats a few points concerning the need for “compelling narrative” and offers little concrete advice or action steps. 

Rule #2

Limit clichés, use correct grammar and don’t make ‘Writing 101’ errors. This last point really bugs me and it’s a rule we all learned in…well…grammar school.

Shane writes: “We are using the media – and the inherit third party credibility – as a way of telling our story to our real audience.”

Correction, I think you meant “inherent,” as in “innate” or “inseparable element,” according to dictionary.com.

He goes on to write: “As pitches are being flushed out, consider.”

Strike two. Pitches are fleshed out, not flushed out – unless they’re really terrible.

I’d like to tell you mistakes like these are rare. But even as a PR professional, there’s no way to spin this. Mistakes like this do crop up all the time. Whatever value Shane’s article originally possessed is instantly cancelled out.

Great pitches are more than compelling narrative. They’re also about crisp, clean writing, free of embarrassingly sophomoric mistakes. Journalists like to say, “Let the copy sing.” Very often our industry’s jargon habit interferes with what could be a lovely client voice.

So “shane” on you, Andy. I know we can do a lot better in putting the “flack attack” to rest.

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