An Effective Public Relations Strategy: Use Phone to Follow Up E-Mails to Reporters

Last week, PR Secrets From a Media Insider returned with a typically eclectic assortment of attendees: two citizen activists, a healthcare practitioner, a communications specialist, a furniture store owner and a representative of a stained glass studio.

Among other points that I emphasized:

For many publicists, sending an e-mail often marks the extent of their outreach.

But based on my years as a reporter as well as in the PR realm, e-mails take on a markedly different life when they are accompanied by a verbal heads-up and some professional rapport. What guides my approach is how I always preferred to be treated as a journalist.

If someone was pitching a story to me for the first time, I was happy to get a call first so that the e-mail didn’t arrive out of the blue. (Later, once a publicist and I had built some trust and mutual respect, I welcomed e-mails any time, and calls in advance weren’t so necessary.)

Even though I was open to introductory phone calls, my patience had its limit. I had neither the time nor the interest to have my ear talked off when my real interest was in seeing, by e-mail, how much groundwork the publicist had done for me.

In my years on a newspaper staff, I had my beat or beats to tend to. As a freelance journalist, I was paid for completed articles, not the passage of time. So the swifter, more complete and more concrete a pitch, the more likely I would hop on a story.

When we give the media what they need, they will give us what we want. And who knows? They might even return more of our e-mails.

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