PRs who fail to get their message over to "over-burdened" hacks here get both barrels from journo-turned Birmingham Chamber of Commerce PR executive Roger Monkman...

Viewing the world's happenings from the other side of the editorial fence for nearly 40 years, I have more than once viewed the work of PRs with some curiosity.

Most newspaper journalists feel the same way.

After all, PRs rarely use the obvious angle in the intros of their "puffs" and what follows is usually much too long and full of irrelevancies to satisfy the client but not the newspaper and, sin of sins, if there is a picture with the tale, you can bet there isn't a caption to accompany it.

The real crunch, though, is that the PR is usually paid a lot more than the journalists who are tasked with making sense of their press releases and turning them into newspaper speak.

So, the "them and us" scenario is inbred and is hard to dismiss, even though I crossed the Rubicon and became a PR type myself some six years ago.

I will jump on the old adage that there is no substitute for experience.

To my knowledge most PRs attempting to trumpet the virtues of their precious clients have little or no newspaper training and have not bothered to discover the whys and wherefores of journalism. It is they who are expecting to catch the eye of a hardened, over-burdened hack with their advertorial words on behalf of their cheque-book waving clients.

Nobody says journalists are the best writers. Apart from a talented few, they are not, but they do have the capacity to put into decipherable, succinct English, the bare bones of a story which will interest their customers, the reader - and they do it under pressure from tight deadlines, something PRs rarely have to meet.

So, when I hear PRs moaning and groaning that certain newspapers don't use their material or that local journalists don't understand, I bite my lip.

You can bet the moaners and groaners are the very ones who have never taken the time to find out what their would-be outlets want or what drives the editorial side of a newspaper.

I realise PR is not all about making sure the name of the client is plastered across every broadsheet, tabloid or Berliner, but I can count on one hand the successful PRs in this city whose work graces the columns of this title - and others in the region - many more times than their competitors.

They are the ones with newspaper experience or who have realised sitting in an office writing inconclusive, over-wordy ramblings is not performing the best service for their clients.

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