General PR People Technology PR

How to test your media pitch with a tame journalist

I note that heavyweight UK business and consumer journalists Guy Clapperton, Sally Morris and Lori Miles have lauched a new PR training service called What The Press Wants.

As the name of the venture suggests, they ought to know better than most exactly what journalists are looking for. Among the various courses provided, I also noted that they are offering a “test your pitch” service to PRs.

In their own words: “About to launch an expensive, creative and high profile PR campaign? Why not give it a trial run in the privacy of your own building before rolling it out to an unforgiving audience? With full non-disclosure assurance, we can send a journalist with relevant senior experience into your office for a test run – to spot any glitches or highlight any positives you may have under-developed.”

I know this kind of thing has been tried before and I wish them all the best with it. However, I’ve always wondered who the real target customer for such a service would be – the client who has commissioned the PR campaign – or the PR company who has created the campaign? Perhaps it would be better to get the journalist involved at the campaign creation stage rather than spend time, money and effort building something only to find out it has as much chance of working as a chocolate fireguard.

General PR Media

Guy Clapperton on the death of normal media


Guy Clapperton is one of UK’s most prolific freelance business journalists. So I tend to pay attention to things he has to say (as do others – I gather over 300 people turned up on Wednesday to hear Guy along with Sally Whittle, Sally Morris, Chris Wheal, Lori Miles and Catherine Cooper at a Meet The Media event).

His recent post on the death of normal media raises some key points.

He refers to entrepreneur and former Dragon’s Den panellist Rachel Elnaugh’s blog , where she says she sees evidence that her blog rather than any press coverage has made an impact on public perceptions of her. And she suggests ‘normal’ press will get “a wake-up call.” (She also says that her foray into blogging goes against a lot traditional PR advice, which is to stay silent and adopt a ‘no comment’ status – I’d like to know who has been advising her).

As Guy says: “Many blogs are written by people who are inexperienced writers and who have no training. This can be a good thing because you see their thoughts as unpolished, which can be more raw and genuine – but the laws of libel apply in Cyberspace as much as they do elsewhere.”

He continues: “There’s a lot of dross out there in blogland but then there’s a lot of dross in journalism too; but has anyone told the bloggers how carefully they need to check their facts before publishing them? Journalists, by training, are inveterate checkers and goodness knows we make enough mistakes. Bloggers, without that background, are prone to repeating anything they hear.”

And finally: “After the initial blogging bubble has subsided you’ve got to ask what’s going to be left. If this is going to continue and people are going to get it right, they’ve got to find a way to make it viable to continue. This means making it pay. This is likely to mean advertising, and that in turn will mean guaranteeing editorial quality (advertisers won’t subsidise something that’s unreadable).”

As Guy concludes: “It’ll be almost like the traditional media all over again.”