23 Nov 10 Things That Really Annoy Journalists
How Not To Approach the Press When You Do Your Own PR
If you have the time, don’t let anything put you off doing your own PR for your business: indeed sometimes your amateur status can win over a journalist as they know that they are talking to the person who was inspired to start the company in the first place. However, there are some things that will start you off on the wrong footing with the press from the very beginning. Avoid or risk the consequences.
1. Not knowing the publication
You don’t send out a press release on a luxury item to one of the women weeklies, for example. Do take a look at the adverts and target market of the publication that you contacting with before sending something over. What publications are your competitors approaching? This is a good place to start.
2. Having no message
Unless you’re launching a new product you need to think through a message. Are you getting behind a principle or campaign (like Virgin’s anti-online bullying campaign) or jumping on the back of something in the news or entertainment world perhaps (you wouldn’t believe the amount of press releases referencing Mr Bond when a new Bond film comes out)
3. Making it hard for them to contact you
You may think it’s fine to include your generic helpline number as the general contact number but press will want to talk to someone who knows the release and story inside out, and not a receptionist or customer service operator. Always include your direct line and if possible a mobile number too.
4. Sending large files
Do not clog up a journalist’s inbox with large files containing high resolution photos for instance. Another common culprit is the colour brochure. Can you link to these online and forgo the wrath of someone who is finding that everything is bouncing because your pics have used up their inbox space?
5. Attaching the release as a PDF
If a journalist opened every attachment they got, they would be there all day. Make it easy for them and include the release in the body of the email and not as a PDF attachment where it’s going to be difficult for them to extract information even if they do want to use it.
6. Asking “Have you got the release?”
Surely you can come up with something better. Ask if they’d like to see a sample, invite them for coffee or an exclusive interview. Even if the answer is a no, follow up with finding out what sort of things they are looking for. Don’t waste that call, and you never know, you may be able to help them.
7. Becoming their Stalker
You don’t need to leave five messages asking if they’d like to cover a story, or email every day to see if they’ve read your feature pitch. The press are generally pretty good at getting back to you if they’re interested. And, whilst some interaction on Twitter and other social media is fine, too much with nothing coming back is a sure sign that you’re heading over into stalker territory.
8. Sending them material once they’ve asked to be removed
Press will sometimes ask you to remove them from your list. This isn’t something to mope about. If it’s not the right material for them, there’s no point sending it in the first place. I try to send a polite “sorry I’ve bothered you” email and then take them off. Do not ignore it and keep on bombarding them with the same old material. At best you’ll get ignored, at worst you’ll go on some office blacklist.
9. Contacting more than one journalist with an exclusive story
Of course you may just get one bite but, we all know that when you do this the odds are higher that two publications will go for the story, and of course they will have to be competing publications! This puts you in an awkward and potentially very damaging position where even the publication you go with could see you as a bit dodgy in the end.
The ultimate faux pas is publicly tweeting out the same exclusive story to different journalists. Just don’t do it.
10. Ignoring a journalist once you’ve got what you want
Opinion is divided on this, but I always think it’s nice to say “thanks for covering me” and giving the piece a shout out on your own social media channels. I don’t think it necessarily ensures any future stories will get covered as well, but it will help them to remember you as a polite person/business to deal with, and that’s a reputation worth cultivating.