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Follow-up Calls: Welcome to the PR Mine Field

» Introduction
Making follow-up calls is important to any effective public relations campaign, but if you are unprofessional in how you address the media, or verbally harass the media, you're going to destroy any interest that your press release may have created.
» Step 1
To follow up or not to follow up: The media is not overly fond of follow-up calls. They get hundreds of calls a day and most are from people who are trying to convince them to cover a completely inappropriate story. Put yourself in the place of an editor or segment producer. You have a story to finish. You're on a deadline and every five minutes you're receiving calls from people trying to sell you another useless story idea, or trying to monopolize your time. After a while you get angry, and rightfully so.
» Step 2
If you are unprofessional in how you address the media, or verbally harass the media, you're going to destroy any interest that your press release may have created. Making follow-up calls is important to any effective public relations campaign. It's the only way to verify that the media received and understands your pitch, but it's a dangerous road for a novice. If you do call, don't call to sell them anything. Remember, you are calling to make sure that they received the information and to offer yourself as a resource. You are not calling to beg or cajole them to do a story.
» Step 3
It's surprising how many people approach the media in a confrontational or threatening way -almost berating the media if they pass on a story idea. Remember editors and segment producers have thousands upon thousands of stories pitched to them every day. They don't need your story; they need a story that fits their audience. Your job is to make your story one that meets their needs. So don't demand they use your ideas. Don't try to bully the media or beat them into submission. Become a resource. Keep developing story ideas. These are people who you want as your allies. If you receive a "no" to a pitch (which I guarantee you will), remember that the “no” is not directed at you or even at your story, but at the angle you chose to pitch. Go back to the drawing board, develop a new, more compelling angle, give it some time and then re-pitch the new idea.

To learn more about follow-up rules, check out Follow-up Etiquette.

Copyright © Anthony Mora 2008
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