Once you’ve come up with your PR campaign strategy, developed your various media pitches, and created your target media list, it’s time to launch and contact the media. Initially pick five or ten targeted media outlets to send your press release to. Press releases are important; they are generally your initial contact with the media. Make them short concise and compelling. But sending or emailing releases out is just the start. You don’t want to just sit and wait. You want to be patient, yet proactive.
After you’ve sent out your releases, give the media a day or two to read them, but don’t make the mistake of waiting for weeks, hoping for a call. You need to make follow-up calls after sending out your press release. Initially it’s often best to concentrate on your local media. The local press will usually be more open to your calls and pitches. Keep your follow-up calls brief (three to four minutes maximum) and be polite. Be upbeat and enthusiastic. Don’t spend your time explaining why yours is the best store or product in town, or why they will be missing the story of the century if they don’t use your idea – everyone tells them that. Never beg or berate the media. You’re calling to introduce yourself, make sure they have the information, and ask if they have any questions or need any other information. Don’t be pushy, but be assertive. Don’t sound intimidated. Be upbeat and polite. Listen to the editor’s or producer’s feedback. If the person on the other line can’t talk, acts hurried, or says no, remember that chances are you caught him or her right in the middle of a story deadline. Don’t push it. Politely ask when would be a good time to call back, say thank you and hang up. Then, make sure you call back.
If the person on the other line starts a dialogue or asks you questions, be open, keep the conversation going, but don’t try to do a sales job. You are not there to sell anything, but to be a resource. If you’re told there’s no interest in your story, don’t try to bulldoze him or her. An effective public relations campaign is about telling good stories. Find out if there are any stories they are currently working on that you could help out with. Find out what kind of stories that particular editor or segment producer usually works on.
Your initial follow-up call is to make sure that your information arrived and was seen by the right person, and to introduce yourself. Keep the call short, polite, and very much to the point. Be courteous and quickly get off the phone. Although it is almost impossible to be effective by simply sending out press releases, don’t call until you have given your release some time to do its job. But keep in mind; you are going to have to make follow-up calls. Without them media placement is often a real crapshoot. Nine times out of ten, you will call only to find out that no one saw your email or received your letter. If that is the case, during the conversation, give a quick thumbnail sketch of your release, ask if you can re-send it, and thank them for their time. Be polite and get off the phone quickly. And, don’t call back twenty minutes later to see if they are now free to talk. Be judicious in your calls. In time, you will cultivate a working relationship with some of the media and begin to develop your own, unique and effective follow-up etiquette.
Copyright © Anthony Mora 2011