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GDPR emails nothing new for journalists

Sun Consumer Writer Jane Hamilton on why the avalanche of GDPR emails is nothing compared to a journalists’ average day…


BURIED under an avalanche of GDPR emails? How many do you reckon you’ve received? 100? 250? More than 500? Well that’s fewer than an average morning’s in-box worth for a national news journalist.

The forthcoming data-rules change has unleashed a deluge of emails on ordinary Brits causing ‘in-box rage’ and mass deletions – but this is something us journalists deal with every single day.

While the emailed press release remains a useful tool in the PR armoury, public relations firms are always stunned – and a little shocked – when I reveal just how many we journalists actually receive.

As a national hack writing on issues covering consumer to careers and parenting to property, my ‘beat’ sees from 400 to over 1,000 releases drop in relentlessly each day. And on a ‘calendar occasion’ such as Black Friday or a Bank Holiday, this escalates to an out of control level, topping the 2,000 mark.

When you consider an eight-hour working day contains just 480 minutes, you don’t have to be a maths whiz to work out there’s no time to read them all.

And don’t get me started on follow-up calls – I really don’t need 1,000 of those a day.

Instead – and in common with almost every other journalist I know – we skim, select ones from our key contacts, or seek out the top-line tales which look like they will work.

It hasn’t always been this way. Even five years ago, in-boxes were manageable; we had time to spend with key contacts and agencies, and were able to spend more time crafting exclusives.

But staff cutbacks and the demand for rolling online content means every journo now needs to pen more stories in less time. And interestingly, fewer hacks has meant more PRs – and more releases – as ex-wordsmiths swap careers and head to the darkside.

Recent figures revealed since 2013, the number of PRs has risen by 50 per cent, while the number of journalists has fallen by nine per cent. This trend will only continue, so how can we manage it so it works for both sides?

Firstly, however grumpy a journo is, most of us do need – and even rely – on PRs. A good PR who understands your readers and your ‘patch’ is a very valued contact. Aim to be that PR who we will answer the phone to.

Secondly, a release has got to be what the publication wants – not what the client wants. It has to be a ‘new news’ story to entertain and inform a readership or viewer.

Thirdly, If the client wants it a certain way and won’t bend, remember YOU are the expert. If the client could do it himself, he would and save paying you. He can’t, so work on him until he takes your advice. Client won’t budge? Then he needs an advert, not PR.

Fourthly, craft it like a news story. Help me out and give me the ‘who, what, why, where and when’ it the top paragraph. Don’t give me the client’s company mission statement.

Finally, you may have the best release in the world, but if it gets missed, it won’t get in. With in-boxes clogged, sadly it does happen. Targeting and delivery is everything, so aim to build a relationship with your key journos so we open whatever you send. Or use a purpose-built delivery agency like 72Point who guarantee to get your story under the nose of news editors.

I hope this has helped and I’m happy to chat further with you if you’d like to talk more. Just put in the email subject line that it’s an important one for me to read!


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