“I’m all about transparency,” one of my favourite travel PRs, Phoebe Oliver, said to me last week, after I’d been apologetically clear that one of her pitches wasn’t viable for me until next year.
It’s an area where I plan to do a better job. Often if I don’t fancy an angle, or go cold on it, I’ll not want to admit it to myself or break the bad news to a PR with their hopes up, and so instead I avoid the issue. (Although I stress that the more common reason for my silence is a total lack of time, so please never assume that a lack of response equates to a lack of interest.)
Most times when I am upfront, however, this goes down well; the clarity and straight-talking is appreciated. Occasionally my reasoning is contested — to a degree this is fair, as everyone is entitled to an opinion and so forth, but it’s never a good look and always dissuades me from being open and honest the next time; why would I want to open another can of worms?!
Nevertheless, here’s my vow: when you’ve sent or voiced a personalised idea to me, or when I’ve initially shown interest, and I have decided the story is not one I’ll pursue (i.e. pitch), then I will tell you that I’m going to decline or jump ship — and I’ll tell you why. Time allowing, of course.
From your (and your client’s) side, a similar transparency is always appreciated when it comes to admitting which publications you’ve already targeted or secured, and if you’re not keen on a publication. I might be surprised if you won’t provide free flights or nights for Metro or The Times or Nail Trimming Weekly, but I shan’t dispute it — and I’d always be far more peeved by being strung along or ignored.
This reminds me of one of my career’s angriest moments: during a meeting, I was told by the PR that the client would definitely host me for Metro. So I worked hard on a pitch, got the commission, began arranging things and… nope, “they won’t host you for Metro alone, Richard. Can you get more commissions?” Gah! Can you take a hike?
Transparency trumps that any day of the week.
What Richard thinks…
“It’s Ali from TravelMedia’s turn to win this week’s gong. This Canary Islands tourist board release is as good as many stories one sees in magazines – and could easily translate into one.”