Today’s A List is courtesy of a little media “oh no!” moment I experienced a week ago. As you may know, Allée recently launched a new educational series (B4: Small Business Workshops) and as such, we’ve been focused internally on some media relations and PR of our own. I have to say that, in the 8+ years I’ve been handling client PR and media relations, I’ve been fortunate to experience good story placement that, for the most part, gets the facts straight.
That being said, I also realize that the state of media changes constantly and with the amount of press releases and information that hit a reporter’s desk, Facebook page, Twitter feed or voicemail (I can’t even imagine weeding through that stuff) we all in the PR field (and our clients) should be grateful for the coverage that comes our way.
And when it doesn’t go exactly as planned, here’s a few things you should remember that you don’t always have control of when it comes to PR and media relations:
No one knew the Dow would crash 500 points this week or that September 11 would end up being a memorable date for this country. My point is, you can’t control events like that and when they happen, you bet your story will be pushed back or dropped. And if something major in the world is happening when you’re trying to make a pitch? Rethink your strategy and respect a journalist’s time. Think about what else they might have going on.
This goes for maternity leave, paternity leave, parent-teacher conferences, jury duty–the point is, journalists have personal lives too and sometimes they will not get around to emailing you, calling you back or running your piece because they do get to take a little time off work. A hint? Give good lead times and think about popular vacation times (ie: holiday weekends, summer, etc.).
3. Beat change
You research, read articles and follow who you feel are the appropriate journalists who would care about your cause and then when it comes time to distribute your information you learn that Reporter X doesn’t cover, write or care about that topic anymore. Fortunately, if you have built solid relationships, those same contacts will most likely connect you to someone they know who does care about what you have to say. But that comes with time so do your research to the best of your ability and know that things can change at any given moment (I’m sensing a theme here…)
Journalists do not work on your deadlines. Period. If you miss the cut-off for print submissions or can’t get back to them right away when they leave a message (and if you’re getting a call from them, it’s big time. Pick up the phone) you may have just missed your chance. Acknowledge that the world does not revolve around your pitch and there are plenty of other factors that determine journalists’ deadlines. You can’t control them so either make your pitch according to deadline or don’t beat yourself up about it if your idea for media coverage came in too late, there’s always next time (but I suggest the research part, first).
5. The finished product
And here is where we get to my example. How thrilled was I when our local paper ran a half-page article on Allée (above the fold, as they say) last week?
And because I had to jet off to a client meeting (after picking up five copies of the paper for myself), it wasn’t until later that day when I realized our company name was misspelled and our website was listed incorrectly.
Was I disappointed? Sure. But the thing is, the reporter felt horrible and I know that mistakes happen. Even if you do everything perfectly to pitch your piece the one thing you absolutely cannot control is the outcome–whether we’re talking black and white print or the response an audience will have.
But more times than not, that still makes for a good story and there’s only so much you can do about that (despite what clients may think).
As for Allée? We did get a correction the following week, complete with a picture. No hard feelings here. In fact, it worked out; we were in the paper two weeks in a row.