We all make judgements in seconds. It could be someone’s appearance. It could be the moment they open their mouths. It doesn’t take long to make a great impression - or a terrible one! When approaching the media – the same rules apply.
A press release will provoke an instant judgement. It has to look good, sound good and always be accurate. Make the point quickly - four pages are never better than one. If they want more – the journalist will ask.
The more they trust you- the better. Make the mistake of sending indiscriminate and poorly written press releases and your reputation will take a battering - and it will be harder to get the journalist’s attention the next time.
The first few moments of a telephone call are equally important. A bad PR firm will try to impart too much information, take longer than one minute to explain the concept, (20 seconds would be better), ring at the most inconvenient moment and - worst of all - not be able to answer questions about the client when asked.
One size does not fit all. You should always know who you are talking to. A good PR operator will know where the client would fit in, and be prepared to adapt the story to every type of media they approach.
In fact a survey showed that given the choice between taking a laptop or telephone to a desert island – 81% of journalists would rather take the laptop. This could be because journalists often don’t have the time to chat, and can answer e-mails at a time that is convenient to them. That in mind, e-mail communication must be done right. Large attachments which take ages to download are a major no-no, and any e-mail requests from a journalist need to be answered as urgently as a phone call.
It’s clear there are times when only a phone call will do – but it’s worth exploring all the options. And e-mails should always be followed up with a phone call if there has been no response.
Good PR people know the different needs of television reporters and stills photographers. They will make sure the client is available when the press release goes out. Sounds obvious, but there are PR agencies out there who have not considered the needs of the press or their client – and everyone leaves disappointed.
The best will also have a good, regularly updated contacts book and keep in touch with those in it!
A journalist's time is precious and you won’t have long to make an impression – so use the time you have wisely and do yourself a favour and get it right first time.