PR and gifts for journalists

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Commonly PR campaigns will seek to court favour by organising gifts for journalists (often referred to as 'freebies').

A November 2004 article in the trade publication PR Week canvassed the delicate art of of selecting appropriate gifts for journalists. "It takes a clever PRO to distinguish between gifts that can make a journalist smile, those that might raise an eyebrow, and those that go straight in the bin," PR Week's Jo Bowman wrote.[1]

While acknowledging that some in the PR industry argued that 'freebies' often caused offence Bowman thought otherwise. "The truth is that a well-chosen gift can be effective in making a journalist regard the sender more fondly, or make them spring to mind more often.

Bowman cited Bite Communications consumer managing director Sheryl Seitz stating "A gift can work well if it's valuable to the journalist and tied in with the brand."

As for the benefit to the PR companies client, the expectation of the magitude of the payback depends on the value of the freebie. Small scale gifts are about building awareness and brand recognition.

Clareville Communications director Sarah Milne told PR Week that "if it's an overseas press trip to see new merchandise or experience new locations then the expectation would be higher."

"A promotional gift is not necessarily going to influence a story, but what it can do is help secure a greater share of voice in any resulting editorial. If the gift involves journalist contact with client or agency - such as an outing or event - then it could help build a long-term working relationship," Bowman concluded.

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