Bartosz Lewicki, 8.04.2011
I once heard that people can be divided into two groups: those who like to divide everything into different categories and the rest. Can you guess which category I'm in?
Since the dawn of the Internet and dot-com boom various types of polls and surveys have gained popularity.
“What does your cat think of when your not at home?” Instantly two groups of respondents emerge: those who are marveled at the idea and those who don't give a damn.
“Is eating after 10 pm good for your health?” Will my answer change anything? If the majority admits that it is healthy indeed, will stuffing yourself with sausage before going to bed suddenly become healthy?!
Every area of human activity is subject to constant testing and probing. The question is: who and why shall take part in such 'surveys'? After all, they can hardly be called representative. But at least they're fun.
Why do PR specialists send boilerplate articles to journalists? This was a questionnaire I recently came across on proto.pl website. Let's take a closer look at the answers to choose from.
- journalists want to receive such articles
But what does it mean they 'want'? Does this mean that the Polish media take the easy way out and do not bother finding interesting topics on their own? That they lack the sense of criticism and their own independent perception of the world?
- it'a part of PR profession and a way to enhance the public image of the client
But how exactly does one enhance the public image of the client? Is a mere fact of sending a 'boilerplate' mean that it will by published word by word by the media? The purpose of such a text is rather to inspire and evoke interest. And what will the journalist do with the topic presented in it depends on the journalist and on the editorial team.
- journalists are too lazy to gather material themselves
Well, in that case the journalists are nothing but a bunch of lazybones, obediently publishing what they find in their e-mails? Copy-Paste editors? If that were so then PR wouldn't make sense at all. Let's all change to advertising, and for those who missed the opportunity there is always a place in the lobbying industry.
- every PR flak wants to 'sell' their message
If you come to think of it, every person likes to be listened to, admired and 'bought', but not everyone gets the chance to become a politician. In order for a transaction to be completed, there also has to be a 'buyer', and if the buyer wants to buy something, why not let him? And finally, what does 'sell' the message actually mean? Is that something wrong?
- they [so called PR specialists – BL] are poorly educated and importunate?
And what's that got to do with anything? There might be more than a few well-educated PR specialists. Are they allowed to write and send boilerplate articles? Are we talking about sending articles (see: question above), their content or the method used by PR flaks to nag the media about publishing the article? But that's yet another interesting topic to talk about.
- I don't have an opinion
So why are you even visiting a PR website?
I know from experience that the best answer to this question should be: it depends.
PR flak is paid for preparing and distributing press releases, which are compatible with the adopted plan and strategy. This way they build trust and awareness of their client's brand, communicate its the achievements, plans and products. This is how this industry works. A reasonable journalist reads only the part that they deem interesting and useful in their research. The remaining information goes to the waste bin. Of course, there are some 'media representatives' who use the ctrl+c/ ctrl+v technique. However, they are most often paid for the linage and they don't really care about the quality of the gathered material, since their name will never be published under the article.
The matter of education or level of importunateness is not really important. The better the message is, the better for everyone: for the client and the journalist and finally, for the PR specialist. The poorer the quality is, the more one should try to find a job in other industry. When it comes to importunateness, it is recommended in this business, but one should use it with common sense and in moderation.
To sum up, the questionnaire on proto.pl website won't bring any eye-opening conclusions. But it might provoke some thoughts and answers – and it is them that divide PR specialists into reasonable and intelligent ones and the rest.