An article from from 2014 shows how a PR company representing the BRIT Awards went a little too far in ‘encouraging’ coverage from journalists. In fact, ‘prescribing’ might be a little more accurate, as they suggested tweets and hashtags to use.


@ThatTimWalker Twitter feed

How not to work with journalists. Image courtesy of Twitter, and @ThatTimWalker!

One journalist took to Twitter to vent his disappointment and discourage his colleagues from accepting their proposal, tweeting “Please fellow journalists do not agree to the absurd conditions for covering @BRITAwards. I’ve even just been told what I should tweet. No.”

He also tweeted “I’ve been told to tweet this tomorrow: ‘Really excited to be heading down to @BRITAwards tonight with [sponsors name here]’ No, no, no”

What does good look like?

As you can see from this reaction, this is not the way to engage with the press. It calls into question their integrity and tries to buy their words – not a great way to conduct your relationship. It reminds me that there is a clear line between sponsorship and PR (and who should undertake each activity) and that journalists value their independence highly.

I know some may feel working with the press has an element of mystery to it (I know I have felt that way!) and that there are many unwritten rules for working with them. In the research for this post however I found that the Internet Press Guild have put some great advice together, which can be found on their page ‘The Care and Feeding of the Press‘. It is tech focused – but the principles are the same. A good read before starting a journalist engagement exercise.

Moving forward

What’s the moral of this Bad Marketing story for you? What should the PR company have done differently? What will you do differently in future when asking the press to cover a topic/event?

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