As a journalist for smh.com.au, theage.com.au, brisbanetimes.com.au and watoday.com.au, and as editor of Latte magazine, I receive countless emails from business owners and PR companies sending me information about products and services for which they are hoping to get publicity.
Some of these story ideas are brilliant. Others are embarrassing. If you don’t want to fall into the latter category, here are the top 3 things you must NEVER do if you want publicity.
1. Never badger, stalk or hassle the journo
I know this sounds like common sense but it’s amazing the number of people who do this. Once you’ve sent the information to a journo and have followed up to see if they need anything else, don’t hassle them. Sure, you can contact them again in the future, but the reality is that if they are interested in your story, they will get back to you.
The key here is that when you send information to a journalist in the first place, make sure it’s targeted, contains an angle they would be interested in, and is relevant to their readership. You want to “hook” them into your story so that they are calling YOU because they like it so much!
2. Never be late in returning a call
Journalists are on deadlines. If they have called you back to get more information about your product or service, chances are they are close to their deadline. So return their calls or emails as soon as possible. Within an hour is ideal, if not sooner. If you really can’t chat within an hour – say you’re in a meeting or at a wedding – then try to sneak out of what you are doing to make a quick call just to say: “I’m at a meeting/wedding and I can’t talk right now but I can call you in two hours. Does that work for you?”
Generally, this will be ok. Journalists want to know that you are going to get back to them. It takes the pressure off them because if they don’t know whether or not you’ve even gotten their message, then they will look for another source or person to interview in case you never come through.
This means that you may lose this opportunity for publicity if they find someone else to talk to in the meantime. If you call back later, they are unlikely to quote you in the story if they already have what they want from the other source.
3. Never ask if you can read or approve the article before it goes to print
This is a big no-no. Particularly if you have been interviewed about something harmless like “dog grooming”. If it’s a “feel-good” positive article, don’t ask.
If you think there is a possibility of controversy, then you still should not insist on approving the article. But keep the lines of communication open. Say things like: “You can call me any time if you would like to clarify anything” or “Feel free to email me if you want to check any of the technical aspects of what I’ve explained.”
This way, you leave the door open to the journo to double check facts.
You don’t have the right to “approve” the article – it’s not your newspaper/magazine. It’s a great opportunity to be asked to comment in the media. It’s excellent for building your profile and positioning yourself as an expert. Don’t ruin your relationship with a journalist by getting unnecessarily precious about your words.
If you would like to learn more about how to get the best PR possible, why not enrol in our PR and Media Releases Seminar?