You sent your press release. Now what? Do you sit and wait, hoping the journalist takes notice? Or do you follow up and risk getting on their nerves in order to gain recognition? To help you make that grand decision, I’ve composed the dos and don’ts of following up:
Do … follow up by phone. If you’ve never seen a journalist’s inbox before, take a look at your spam box in your email account. How many spam emails do you get a day? If you’re still using one of the older email providers, maybe hundreds. Well, that’s what a journalist’s regular inbox looks like, except it’s not all spam. Instead, it’s packed full of pitches just like yours. So as you can imagine, it’s pretty easy for yours to get lost among all the others. How can you stand apart? Make a phone call and try and discuss your pitch with the journalist.
Don’t … call multiple times. Of course, calling is shaky territory. To be quite honest with you, a lot of journalists simply can’t stand getting calls checking on pitches. Why? Well there are a few reasons. First of all, more often than not the people entrusted with calling from PR firms are the lowest men on the totem pole — and the journalists know it. See, the life of a journalist is one lived constantly behind. In other words, there is always a pressing deadline. It’s a high stress environment. The last thing they want is for some sniveling young intern to bother them every 30 seconds about some press release they can’t even remember reading (they probably didn’t!). So call …once.
Do … get right to the important facts. So I’m telling you to call, but also that they don’t like calls. And don’t call too much. So what’s the point? Am I contradicting myself? Well not exactly. What we have here is a bit of a catch 22. And the only way you can see your way out of it is to try and get the reporter’s attention fast. So beginning the call with “hello, remember that press release?” is going to instantly make them roll their eyes and mentally hang up. On the other hand, if you get right to the point and spout off a few pertinent facts about your story and ask if it’s a good fit, then they might just bite.
Don’t … think you’re doing the journalist a favor. Yes, you’re helping them find a (hopefully) good idea to cover. However, trust me when I say they have plenty of material and odds are yours is just one of the pack. In reality, the journalist is doing you a favor. So be polite and don’t feel like anyone owes you anything.
Do … make the journalist’s life easier by offering more than the other guys. Remember two things that I said: 1) it’s a stressful job; 2) your story probably isn’t all that much greater than all the rest. But by realizing number one and acting on it, you can combat number two. In other words, by doing something to make the reporter’s life a bit easier, you can stand out from the competition even though your story may or may not be any better. How? Offer something extra in your pitch. Extra info, extra interviews, extra statistics, etc. Do some of the research for them and hand it to them. They’ll love you for it!
Have you skated that thin line between being persistent and pushy? Tell us about it in the replies.
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