Wednesday, 14 July 2010

Ten ways to impress a journalist

1. Don't bother to remember their beats. That's irrelevant. No matter what they cover, they will be interested in the product or person you represent.

2. Of course they want an 'interaction' with your client. They're turking for it. It doesn't matter whether their publication carries interviews. Or even if their publication covers the area in which your client operates. Your client is all that matters and they will see that if you email them three times. They'll thank you for it.

3. Send out emails, yes, but follow up with a phone call if they don't respond immediately and positively. That thing they say about emails saving time? Rubbish. The human touch is so important and so neglected in this hustling, bustling age.

4. Always call their cellphones, not the landlines that are listed on their visiting cards. That way you can reach them when they're out for a drink or getting some 'me time.' They will appreciate the gesture, since they would otherwise miss out on your important launch / event / interaction. And never call from your cellphone. This way, if they ever need to call you back late on production night to confirm something, they'll only have your office landline and they'll get your voicemail. This saves your 'me time' from being interrupted and the journo will remember this and respect your remarkable work:life balance. Respect is important.

5. Never send them links to large files. It would make the poor dears work extra hard to download them. Instead, send them large attachments which will fill up inboxes. This will ensure that your large attachments get their exclusive attention since they now won't get mail from pesky bosses, colleagues and the subjects of their stories. This will ensure that they never mark your ID as junk mail which will henceforth be delivered straight to the trash.
p.s. It may happen that your email might not get to its destination. You should ensure this does not happen by sending your message — with the large attachments — twice. Thrice for luck.

6. Oh, and never put the text of your press release into the body of the email. That is so last century. Instead, attach a large PDF file with plenty of pictures and fonts of many colours. This will demonstrate your aesthetic sense and technical skillz. (In your covering note, do remember to use SMSese and refer to the recipient as 'u.' Not only will they appreciate this liberty with the language amidst the shackles of their style guides and the frowns of their desk people, this also gives your email a nice non-businessy touch.)

7. Even if they're not working for a daily, which may need photos of your event (which they didn't send someone to cover despite your emails and phone follow-ups), to fill up space on a slow news day, send them pictures. Many of them. And remember: high-resolution images. This shows that you are highly professional and you know that they need print-quality images.

8. When you call, slip in a mention of the car that will pick the journalist up, and the place where they will be staying, even if you know that their publication has a no-freebies policy. Journos are easy to influence with a bit of posh treatment. And their publications won't mind; after all, these are recessionary times, and the news media is facing more cut-backs then ever before.

9. Time your emails so that they land up in the thick of the production cycle. That way the journalists' super-fine-tuned news antennae will recognise that they are important; they will then yell 'Stop The Presses!' (every journo secretly wants to do that) and include your press release in toto, dropping the story about Mr Big's secret deal / mistress.

10. Add them to your newsletter mailing lists without asking them. You're doing them a favour. They lead busy lives, so they don't have time to opt in, and they really appreciate your taking the trouble to do it for them. They're simple creatures, easy to please, without interests of their own, and your company's daily email will be a bright spot in their dull lives.


sudarshan said...

enjoyed this immensely. very tongue in cheek. :). esp 4 and 9.
# 9 made me laugh out, inviting polite enquiring glances from (concerned) fellow cubiclers

Pradipta said...

What a hard man you are to please! All this he/she/it did, and still you're not buying him/her/it a drink and a house?

How do we know said...

i was laffing so hard thru it all.. awesome!!!

Anonymous said...

Peter, maybe to really educate PR folks its important to do a post on the ten things they CAN/SHOULD do. This whole tongue in cheek thing may actualy be taken at face value by some/many of them! Do a post somewhat like a much needed PR 101 with TO DO LIST

Anonymous said...

So beautifully written! Some points are dodgy.
What else can be earned from this but a smirk.


P2C2U said...

Haha! About time someone came up with a post like this! Is there any way we can send this to all the PR people of our acquaintance? (twice, in case they don't get it the first time and three times for good luck)

zigzackly said...

No, not even a coffee.

Sudarshan, HDWK,
Always glad to get a laugh. Thank you.

Anony 1,
That I will leave to worthier souls than I will ever be!

Anony 2,
A smirk is good. We think.

Be my guest. Better still, you can pass the link around. We get no AdSense or anything, but spikes on our Sitemeter make us happy. We're easy like that.

Lubna said...

You forgot one important tip: Journalists should be called on their cell phones EARLY in the morning. That way, they will never forget you. After all, timing is everything.

Prima said...

Peter, came to this late, but enjoyed it so much! It encompasses all the angst I've harboured over the years

Divya said...

LoveD this. :D

Deepanjolie Sonya Figg said...

Got a stich - u r to blame, Peter!luvved the large attachments inbox bit - so true!