When PR and biz journalism collide
Kleman writes, “Lately, though, it’s as if some PR folks don’t understand that the job of a reporter is different from that of a publicist. (The confusion could be coming from their lawyer bosses, some of whom can be a tad controlling, I know—but still.) Here’s a cheat sheet so they’ll know exactly where The American Lawyer stands:
“We don’t let anyone see stories before they’re published, and PR staff doesn’t get to ‘approve’ the quotes we plan to use. (To fact-check pieces, reporters will sometimes review with a subject the gist of his or her comments. And occasionally, for very complicated pieces, I encourage reporters to read word-for-word specific passages to experts to make sure we got the details right.) I can’t tell whether we get this request so often because certain people are just testing our reporters, or because this is how other publications actually operate. We don’t do that here.
“If we make a mistake, we’ll promptly fix it. Please let us know if that’s the unfortunate case. But if we didn’t make a mistake, we’re not going to change a published piece so you like it better. Incredibly, we got a call this month from a PR specialist who asked that a quote be stricken from the online version of a story that had appeared in print. It was accurate, just not to the firm’s liking.
“News judgment is our call. Sometimes, we’ve gotten requests to kill a story when a PR person thinks an article is heading the wrong way. This doesn’t work.”