I Might Have Received Your Press Release But I’m Not Telling You

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

  • http://allpublicists.com John S

    Yes I agree, these calls are basically useless and more of a nuisance than anything else. If they’re really concerned about having their emails read, they could always request a read receipt.

  • http://www.creativitaconsulting.com Nicole L.

    I work in PR and I completely agree – these calls are stupid. But PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE look at it from the other end: The junior staffer AND the intern knows the call is stupid. But they are under the gun from some “senior” staffer, an account supervisor or a vice president, who is forcing them to do it. THEY are the ones who should know better.

    There are more effective ways to follow up. Sometimes people just don’t bother to teach junior staffers how to do it correctly.

  • http://www.mayocommunications.com George Mc Quade, MAYO Communications

    But I disagree. News releases are not going away, they are just getting shorter, sharper and stronger, because no one has time to read anymore, which why I will keep short. New media and formats change. Relationships are built over time and phone contact is the best way to do it. As working member of the press who still writes a monthly column on media, I know I appreciate it when someone calls me and reminds about their event. George.

  • Cathy

    I hesitate to make these calls after (but not right after, I usually wait a day) sending out a release, yet more often than not the editor/journalist doesn’t recall having gotten it and appreciates receiving the call. That said, I’m not sending out multitudes of releases and they are targeted and newsworthy.

  • http://thinkingaboutpr.blogspot.com/ maria

    I did my work experience as PR in a communication agency and I had to do a lot of calls to an unfinished lists of journalists. The answers were so different, some of them only tell me “yes, I have your press release” and other “please, now I can not speak with you I am occupied”, but no one asked me about the content. So, I think that this kind of calls are useless because if the journalists want to know more about something, they are going to call you, althought at university always tell you that you should phone.

    After one summer, I did another work experience in a journal and it was horrible when somebody called you when you were writing your article for this day and he started to try to convince you about his new release, they only disturbe you. When I was interesed in something I called directly. It was horrible receive more than 10 phone calls only to know if you had received a press release.

  • Ellie

    Yes I agree as well. Our technology is advanced and if the press release is interesting enough and viable information, then the reporter will use it. People are too busy to answer phone calls all the time to speak about a release they have received. If they want to use the information, then they will follow up with you. I would definitely be annoyed as well, especially when a follow up email would suffice. Don’t call…they will call you!