In the past week, I somehow entered a PR time machine taking me back 15 years to the time when agency interns and junior account reps would call reporters and ask if they’ve received the fax announcing “fill in the blank”. I received three of those calls this week after a healthy break from what is arguably an annoyance to reporters. It should be said, I’m no longer a reporter, but I will play one in this blog entry.
Ten years ago, the mode of delivery changed from fax to email but the same call lived on: “did you get the email I sent [a second ago]” about our new hire” or our new breakthrough toothbrush and fork combo? You get the point, I hope. If you are guilty of this media relations tactic, why are you wasting reporters’ time with these calls? Why are you using a leaner staff’s time forcing them to go down the list and make those calls which you know they hate to do? And should a reporter actually answer the phone (unlikely) and talk to the caller, most likely that caller is not prepared to handle the journalist’s questions. Better to deploy these lower-ranking employees on tasks that might bear fruit, like research or social media activities to spread the message.
Press releases definitely serve a purpose and despite some naysaying, they are not going away. Rather, they are morphing into highly optimized announcements that are refreshingly longer than a tweet, but too often self serving and without an apparent story idea for the recipient. But let the message speak for itself. Having someone follow up with a call is grounds for dismissal of the whole release. Makes you want to hit the delete button, because if the news is interesting and the release is well written and to the point, a reporter will follow up or even write a story without following up. Have faith that we received your release, unless of course it fell into our spam folder.
– Diane Schwartz