Jeremy Paxman in HR? Thank God, no

So, last week I did something huge. I talked in front of a Big Room Full of Many, Many People.

Frankly, I can’t remember much of what I said; it went in a whirl because climbing that Public Speaking Mountain was like Everest to me. The amazing thing was that the audience was so lovely, I think they’d have caught me if I fell. Thank you, DisruptHR.

My talk was on something I notice a lot. That HR people are, quite understandably, worried about talking to HR journalists. Perhaps it’s like their Everest.

And I can see why. Frankly, it could open up a can of worms. Who wants headline hell in a gossip-y magazine, or to create enormous embarrassment for you, your employees or business?

The fear, I imagine, is getting asked really awkward questions by a Jeremy Paxman style interviewer, creating a company issue and getting known for all the wrong things. Surely it’s wiser to let sleeping dogs lie?

So as I work in public relations, I asked some HR journalists I work with about their views on interviewing HR people. And you’ve got it made. They think you’re wise and knowledgeable, you don’t blow your own trumpet enough.

Robert Jeffery, the editor of People Management succinctly summed up why HR people shouldn’t worry so much about talking to the HR media:

“Most of the HR press aren’t interested in being sensationalist because it doesn't help us in the long run to get the wrong sort of reputation with practitioners.”

You can see the sense in this. If the HR publications write something that isn’t educational and informative for their readers, those readers are not going to want to get involved with them. They have an interest in protecting their reputation as much as contributors do.

I’ve worked with the HR media for 20+ years, and my view is that you shouldn’t get something like People Management or HR Magazine (for instance) muddled up with The Sun (for instance). I’m not maligning the Sun. But we all know the audience is looking for something very different than a reader of, say, Personnel Today.

Some publications are about heightened headlines and click-bait and others are about education and information.

I’ll write a series of blogs on HR people doing HR media interviews –

  • Advice and views from some of the HR journalists in our market

  • Why editorial coverage is so good for you, your work, your career and business

  • A ‘Media Relations In Minutes’ Guide

  • Tips on keeping away from a journalist’s dark side

  • How to feel more comfortable talking to journalists.

Watch out for them, and if you have any views or questions or want some advice about climbing public relations mountains, let me know?

We work mostly with suppliers to the HR industry, but we also, for instance, worked closely for 8 years with the HR team of a global company, supporting HR and CSR communications. Great people, important work, great fun.

Your reputation is important, and working media relations in the right way can enhance knowledge, trust and awareness of a wide audience. If you’re going to do it, it’s important to do it well.

Holler if I can help.

PS. If you haven’t been to a DisruptHR event yet, they are full of brilliant people and

interesting conversation, do go to one. They take place in different locations.

Kay PhelpsPR in HR