If you’re in the field of public relations, it’s in your best interest to establish good, solid relationships with members of the media. That’s a given – right? But for some PR practitioners (myself included), some things that seem quite obvious slip right through us.
I recently attended an event held by the San Diego PRSA chapter, with Gayle Lynn Falkenthal as the host. Falkenthal, who is Accredited in Public Relations (APR), has more expertise in the field than many long-standing public relations professionals combined. She is a powerhouse.
Falkenthal is the President of the Falcon Valley Group, a public relations consulting company based in San Diego. Before transitioning into public relations, the San Diego PR pro spent 15 years as an award-winning broadcast editor and producer with KOGO-AM Radio, KPBS-FM Radio, and KFMB TV Local 8.
So, with all the experience in the fields of journalism and broadcast, Falkenthal is very much aware of what it’s like to be bombarded by publicists who, at times, can be inconsiderate, unprofessional, and sometimes even annoying (perhaps unknowingly).
We know deadlines have to be met, and we know that we want to get our clients’ name out there, but there is a civilized and professional approach on getting your job done.
Here are some pretty alarming facts that were given to us by Falkenthal:
Percentage of irrelevant press releases received by media from:
- Public relations agencies – 37%
- Freelance public relations practitioners – 27%
- In-house public relations departments – 25%
Those are some whopping numbers! What I learned: don’t write about it if it’s not important. And even more importantly, don’t disseminate it, either. You will lose your credibility and people will discard your press releases.
Here are some more facts:
- Employees spend around 18 minutes a day reading irrelevant press releases, and they state that these are a significant source of frustration for them.
- Employees spend around 9 minutes a day on irrelevant phone calls.
What I learned: people don’t want to be annoyed, and people don’t want to have their time wasted. Wasted time equals to less productivity, which ultimately leads to loss of profit. Don’t make a phone call unless it’s important. You don’t want people directing your call to their voicemail as soon as they see your number on the caller ID.
Falkenthal provided attendees with easy, user-friendly tips on how to go about exchanging e-mails and phone calls with members of the media. Read ahead, you will be surprised:
- Don’t send attachments. Attachments are a real pain. Unless the recipient asks for an attachment, send a link or paste directly into your e-mail instead.
- Include links in press releases. Links make your product much more attractive. In the words of Falkenthal, take the path of least resistance – no attachments.
- Avoid follow-up calls. Follow-up calls are necessary sometimes, but unless something like the time, location or guest speaker of your event has changed, avoid follow-up calls.
- Assume the recipient got your e-mail. Never ask “did you get my e-mail?” Instead, say something like “Do you have any more questions? Do you need any more information?”
- It’s okay, it’s not always a story. For every story you put out there that’s not newsworthy, it will corrode your reputation.
- Diplomacy is essential in every sort interaction you have with people. People don’t like being pushed or bossed around.
- Take the path of least resistance. Make your e-mails easy, but attractive.
Some extra tips:
- Learn quirks about each specific person you meet; e.g. their favorite color, their favorite pet. You never know when this may come in handy.
- Don’t limit yourself to your city/state, only. Exchange market lists with people from other states.
- This one is mine: If you still don’t have an account with Twitter, do yourself a favor, and get an account now. I could ramble forever on why Twitter is so great, but I’ll leave that for another blog post.
Some of the things you read may seem like common sense, but oftentimes we’re so busy caught up with pitching our stories to the media, that we forget some of the underlying basics of professionalism: diplomacy, consideration and tact. As Falkenthal said, “this is our industry, and this will allow us to survive and succeed.”
Thanks to San Diego PRSA and Gayle Falkenthal for hosting such a great event.
Click here to follow Gayle Falkenthal on Twitter.
Click here to visit San Diego PRSA’s website.