The ‘How Not To’ Guide to PR

How Not To Guide to PR



The freshly-updated ‘How Not To’ Guide to PR is now available as a downloadable PDF.

Responses in this ‘How Not To’ Guide to PR come from senior journalists at the BBC, The Telegraph, The Guardian, The Sun, The Scotsman, The Financial Times, The Daily Mail, Sky News, The Wall Street Journal, Reuters, The Washington Post and many more. I’m grateful for all the contributions.

It’s a useful ‘How Not To’ primer, and, as you’ll see, it’s, er, ‘cathartic’ for the hundreds of journalists that have taken the time to write back to me. It’s documentary evidence that many practices (sell-in calls, poorly targeted press releases, shoddy grammar and spelling, etc) should be stopped, with all the time saved invested in thinking harder about the stories and email pitches sent in their many thousands to Britain’s increasingly hard-working hacks every day.

To keep this up-to-date, I write out a couple of times a year, inviting submissions of worst examples of PR and media relations practice. I also capture occasional tweets from journalists that sum up their frustrations. The guide is used as an informal training manual by some of the world’s largest PR consultancies.

You’ll see that there are minimal edits.  It’s a free-form document, arranged occasionally under headings (see the table of contents). There’s repetition, but I think that can be instructive. I add new sections when patterns of annoying behaviour are brought to my attention. Social media, for instance, has given rise to a whole encyclopaedia of bugbears.

Source: Twitter

There’s a lot to digest but I think it is well worth a read if you are serious about a career in PR.  Please do feel free to share it with colleagues via Twitter, Facebook or LinkedIn. If you’re a journalist, do send your examples to me or tweet me @HamishMThompson.

Having a good working relationship with journalists is vital – and always will be – and this guide, above all, is here to help.

Source: Twitter

Finally, if you’re in PR and you fancy checking that your press release is free of buzzwords, do try my free online Buzzsaw app, which will automatically strip out buzzwords submitted to me by national, regional and international editors, broadcasters and journalists. You’ll find The Buzzsaw at

I hope you enjoy the report.

Hamish Thompson