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  1. 1

    Stevie Godson

    Bloody typical, sad to say. And as for those forms, as absurd as anything Alice saw through the looking glass….

  2. 2


    Um. Isn’t that what advertising is for?

  3. 3


    Hmm. My view is any PR worth their salt can write their own stories. And they should. It just blurs the lines when PRs asks journalists to do their dirty work for them. That means PRs set the agenda, and the media just follows and writes and publishes whatever PRs contrive. This is obvious in the repetition in the print media, and not only regarding the hospitality industry. PR companies ought to employ journalists to write for them. I know when I was headhunted for a big PR job that what I wrote was reprinted VERBATIM (yes!). Nice for me but I wondered about ethics… It was their lucky day when they found me. I also did radio scripts, speeches for suits, media troubleshooting, etc. The speech writing: I loved that! Point is: SA is in such a blurry muddled phase at the moment that anything goes and its the survival of the fittest. We need a tsunami of a cleansing ceremony (thanks Lerato, for the idea). As for the figures that the PR wanted you to provide, that is the work of the PR. Or it ought to be. It’s a mess guys. Let’s face it. And do something about it. M

  4. 4

    Quentin Wray

    You should all read a book called “Toxic Sludge is Good for You”. This makes our lot seem like angels.

  5. 5

    Marisa 'eM' Louw

    I feel your pain. I am a freelance PR who has worked very hard to establish a fab reputation with my editors/journos. As disqus_L.. rightly states below, a worthy PR would write their own articles and get it published, which is exactly what I do. In my opinion my editors/journos are my clients and I will bend over backwards to make their lives easier. It is simply a bonus that the paying client receives publicity and certainly not a given. The challenge is that the paying client more often than not has NO clue as to what publicity entails. They think it is free advertising. I cannot tell you how often clients expect to have advertorial published as editorial. I have come to a point where I refuse to write advertorial pieces let alone pitch them to my editors/journos. I guess I can write an entire opinion piece as a follow up to yours but the point I’m trying to make is that there are too many PRs out there who give those of us who work hard at becoming fab, a bad name.

  6. 6

    Sue Charlton (APR)

    I always feel so embarrassed of my industry when I read of such PRO behaviour as Caroline highlights. I guess I have been around since the twinkle in Sol’s eye and therefore try to build reputable relations with all media players I come into contact with. I support Caroline’s annoyance at being asked by clients ‘when are they going to use the article’ – I really don’t know maybe the editor is staring at it intently at home before they go to bed?! PRO’s should be able to figure out media relations 101 and educate those that pay their salaries. To demand the tone and pitch etc is just pure ignorance or is it some bimbo who thinks she can spin in the office as well as in the gym ???

  7. 7

    News ed

    I am a lowly news editor of a community newspaper, The amount of unsolicited advertising I receive thinly disguised as a press release is incredible.

    The authors of these so-called press releases have no idea what a community newspaper is, or does, or what we’re about. We survive on advertising. Why on earth would I give it away?

    Make it local, make it a community project, make it interesting and topical, and then, ensure it fits the style of the newspaper, ensure the word count is less than 300, put full names of the people in the picture, make sure your copy is tight, drop the adspeak, and don’t mention your client/product 17 times in one sentence. Otherwise it is tanked and you go to the spam folder and disappear forever.

    And seriously, don’t offer me a freebie.

  8. 8

    Caroline Hurry

    Oh, well said, “lowly news ed”! One could write a book on bad pee aar pictures alone!

  9. 9

    Caroline Hurry

    IMHO the best PRs are former journalists themselves … far too many PRs I meet don’t seem to understand the difference between advertorial and editorial.

  10. 10

    Caroline Hurry

    Quite right. It’s is a must-read for journalists – for everyone, in fact

  11. 11


    This is the sort of situation where one should name names – give other freelancers the opportuninty to walk away …
    You are paying for their incompetence!

  12. 12

    Caroline Hurry

    I know, Stevie … legally they’re worth zip so why do PRs even bother with them? To placate their clients? Anyone on the ball PR-wise knows that “ad spend” is old hat, especially compared to social media, which many PRs don’t even factor in.

  13. 13

    Patricia McCracken

    From another disillusioned freelance travel writer, thanks for telling it like it is, Caroline!

  14. 14

    Caroline Hurry

    Here’s a piece from James Siddall on why PRs drive him nuts too //

  15. 16


    I LOVED your article! As someone who has been around when Sol himself was a twinkle in his parents’ eyes, I’m horrified with the type of young ‘PR’ out there. Some have a Diploma, my dear, which they feel entitles them to a senior management position……but ask them to write a Brief, or – horror of horrors – a press release, and you see just how much that Diploma is worth. Many of your respondents seem to have clawed their way up like I did. You started waaaaay down at the bottom, learnt from your superiors and slaved for hours over the choice of word, or a turn of a phrase. Oh well – it doesn’t bode well for the future, does it?

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