Editorials A laughing matter By Nadine Godwin / February 20, 1999 Share 1 -- Public relations hacks (oops, I mean specialists) take some guff from reporters. A laugh at the expense of a PR person is standard, inside humor in the newspaper biz. Indeed, it is not so "inside." PR people offer some of the best laugh lines themselves.That's how I happen to be looking at a raft of one-liners that poke fun at the public relations business and at the relationship between reporters and the PR personnel we lean on at times. (By "lean on," I mean either lean on as in push to get some action or as in rely on. It all depends.)This collection was in one of those numerous e-mails that float around the Internet. It is a list of "things a reporter would never say to a PR person," and it apparently originated with a public relations student at the University of Georgia.One of the best is: "No, I don't have anything to do during Comdex. I'd love to meet your product manager for a briefing."Yes, we have encountered PR personnel who think we love to meet their clients at conventions just because everyone is gathered at the same place at the same time. Wrong. Physical proximity does not equal news.I have even had PR types seek an appointment with a Travel Weekly reporter during conventions on the other side of the world when the clients are based a few miles from us in the U.S.Here are some other lines a PR person won't hear:"I'd much rather work through a qualified PR professional like yourself than talk to someone else at the company who might tell me something I'm not supposed to know.""Take your time getting back to me.""Have you spoken to editors at other publications about this story? This is news that they should cover, too."In all seriousness, there are very professional PR practitioners. And, maybe occasionally, there are good reasons to hire one for your business. Certainly, it would be helpful to learn some of the professional PR person's skills.That is why I asked one of my favorite hacks (er, PR men) to participate with me in a seminar, called Getting Good Press, at the Minneapolis Star Tribune travel trade show on April 6. He is Steve Loucks, who left his PR post at ASTA to join Carlson Leisure Group as public relations director.And this whole column, besides amusing me, is a roundabout way of telling you Travel Weekly is a cosponsor of the Minneapolis event. Participation in a local newspaper travel show is a first for us; we have helped create the seminar program.A promotional mailing is slated to go out this week to 4,000 agents in Minnesota and the four surrounding states. If you have questions, there is a hot-line number, (612) 673-7234.