You need to make follow-up calls after sending out your press release. Initially its often best to concentrate on your local media. The local press will usually be more open to your calls and pitches. Keep your 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 need any other corroborating 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 say thank you and hang up.
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 them.
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 or media information, be prudent in the calls you make. Don't call until you have given your release a chance to do its job. Without follow-up calls, media placement is often a real crapshoot, yet the wrong kind of follow-up calls will knock you out of the game completely. Nine times out of ten, you will call only to find out that no one saw your fax or received your letter. If that is the case, during the conversation, give a quick thumbnail sketch of your release, and 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 follow-up etiquette. Until then, my advice is to error on the side of prudence.
Copyright © Anthony Mora 2008