News reporters deal with PR pros all day long, every day. Whether they’re hounding them for information, demanding they put their fabulous and epic press release in the latest edition of the newspaper, or just sending the 500th follow up email wondering why the reporter hasn’t responded yet. If you’re one of the many bothering a reporter every day, the likelihood of he or she answering you is very slim. However, if you get on their good side, they may in fact be calling YOU.
Do you know who you’re calling? Not just their name or position; who are they? What have they written about in the past? Have they done any opinion columns? What were they about? Were they perhaps passionate against the very business you’re in?
Take the publication itself into consideration as well. How long have they been in business? Have they covered your story idea before? If so, is it possible to approach it from a new angle? Who is the editor in chief? How long was he or she a reporter before making it that far up the ranks? Are they who you should call instead?
Before you ever send your first press release, strike up a conversation with the reporters in your area. Call or email (preferred) them and ask what news stories they’re looking for. Do NOT pitch them anything at this time unless they specifically ask. Hopefully, they’ll have a solid idea on stories that are hot at the moment, so you can be sure to submit anything that fits in that model.
This includes information that’s not related to your company! You really want to make yourself valuable to a reporter, make sure you scratch their backs a little. Reporters are often stressed out individuals, so when somebody comes along and helps them cut back to only half a pack that particular day, they will remember it.
Return the Calls
Eventually, when a good conversation and relationship is established, your reporter contacts may in fact start blowing up your phone instead of vice versa. Remember your manners and make sure to follow up with them, no matter if you have information or not!
Keep in mind the crazy deadlines your new friends are working around. When waiting an hour makes the difference between a story making the paper and total disaster, waiting a day to call them back is just ridiculous. After a few times of them attempting to reach you for a story or source quote and you taking your sweet time responding, the phone calls will stop, and soon you’ll find yourself among the unread masses again, wondering what happened.
One last thing – remember those aforementioned deadlines when and if you decide to ever do a follow up call or email. Even though you and the reporter now have great repartee when you talk on the phone doesn’t mean they want you ringing them up every time you get home from work.
A little common courtesy will go a long way; instead of immediately jumping into a conversation when they answer, simply ask, “Is this a good time?” More than likely they’ll be happy to hear from you anyway, but in case they’re currently chasing after the mayor for an interview, it gives them an easy way to tell you they’ll call you back without a lot of stammering.
This article is written by Mickie Kennedy, founder of eReleases (http://www.ereleases.com), the online leader in affordable press release distribution. Download a free copy of the PR Checklist – a 24 point list of Press Release Dos and Don’ts here: http://www.ereleases.com/prchecklist.html