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    Wednesday, March 17, 2010

    Following up news releases by phone – OK, or no way?

    You have some news to send out on behalf of a client so you get together a list of media outlets that you think it might appeal to and you send it to them. Should you phone them too? Sometimes, yes... and often not!

    Here are some guidelines:


    1. you have never read the publication but just think it might cover your news from the sound of the title (do your research – you can experiment on your own time, don’t waste the time of others)

    2. you are checking to see if they received it. If you sent it to the correct address (most commonly a news email address) and you didn’t get a bounce back message, they received it! If they didn’t reply it’s because it wasn’t interesting or you didn’t pitch it well in your email message.

    3. you think the news the client has foisted on you is non-news! It happens... and sometimes as PRs we are forced to go with it in the name of client relations. But, my advice is push it out on a wire with the masses if you absolutely must and it will fall into whatever category it belongs in. Chances are it won’t be picked up, but we knew that, right? By telephone pitching bad news you are only harming your own reputation.

    4. it is a deadline day. Know your target media well enough to know when they are on publication deadlines and leave them in peace to meet those deadlines (unless your news in earth shattering and exclusive and then you may well be forgiven!)

    CALL IF:

    1. you have your facts straight, your pitch is concise and you are prepared to say what you need to in under 30 seconds. Make sure what you are saying is highly interesting and specifically suited to the publication you are calling (just for them, not a blanket pitch). Only go for it if you can honestly see their readers getting excited about what you have to say. Even then, be prepared to receive feedback with grace; if they say your are tracking in the wrong direction and it’s not quite what they’re after, thank them and make a record so that you are right on the mark next time.

    2. You are offering them an exclusive on a high profile piece of news in advance

    3. you have strong and exciting supporting material to add to your relevant news, such as brand new stats, a breaking landscape-changing development, a high profile person that has come forward and is willing to provide a testimonial etc.

    4. you need to draw their attention to a time sensitive deadline, such as an event or newsworthy activity, before it passes (again, highly relevant is the key here).