Thursday, March 18, 2010

PR Pro, Part II: 3.5 reasons why I can't show you the story

Last week, I recounted one of the best encounters I've ever had with a public relations professional helping me with a story. (Go here; I'll be here when you get back.)

Today, I want to touch briefly on the reasons why the surprisingly common "Can I see the story before it runs?" request chafes me so terribly:
  1. By asking the question, you're subtly implying that I might misconstrue your story, make your company look bad, make your competitor look good, etc., etc. It's much nicer to operate from a position of mutual trust and respect. After all, I'm assuming that you're giving me the straight scoop about your client. (You are, aren't you?)
  2. Most editorial policies preclude me from showing you anything other than direct quotes. Thus, you're putting me in the awkward position of telling you "no" right after you did me the favor of providing resources for my story. I'm a nice guy, but my allegiance is to the publication that gave me the assignment.
  3. Even if I did show the story to you, I wouldn't change anything unless it was factually incorrect. I calls 'em like I sees 'em, and I pride myself on getting things right.
Finally, Reason 3.5 is this: Keep in mind that, if I have a question about whether something is accurate, I will certainly contact you.

Now, in defense of the PR pros who insist on asking the question, I suppose there is the occasional writer, editor or publisher who says, "Sure! I'll send it right over!" (I've even known a couple of ad salespeople who've sent a galley proof clandestinely, which is about the sleaziest thing you can do.)

Using the shotgun method to find those people is your right. At the same time, it's my right to stick to my own guns: Trust me.


  1. I've found that there's a relationship between how long someone has been in the business and how likely they are to ask something like that. An experienced pro is much less likely.

  2. Anon, that's been my experience, too. But you'd think the PRSA or someone) would make it clear that you shouldn't ask for anything but a read-back of direct quotes. (Which, as I stated in the original article, is totally kosher.)