Wisdom from the Chicago Tribune: Get personal with journalists
WRONG. Let's hear it for the Chicago Tribune (and the Bulldog Reporter, who ran this piece earlier this summer) who eloquently dispels this line of thinking. Publicists: be ye not afraid of the telephone. We're talkers. Let's reach out and touch the media via some phone calls and meetings, shall we? Here's more:
"An email followed by a telephone call really is not the best way to go if you want to get our attention," says Michael A. Lev, business editor at the Chicago Tribune (circ. 957,212). "Instead, I think the way to stand out is to make a call and leave a message first—and then to follow up with your email. I have the same counterintuitive advice for sending materials," he adds. "A press kit followed with a call will be remembered. But an email is just too easy to skip over or delete."
His larger point: "Email or anything on its own isn't strategy—it's a gamble. But tying a phone call to it makes it more than a shot in the dark. A call just makes it more personal"––especially in light of today's spray–and–pray email campaigns. That said, "Journalists want their relationships with PR people to be as concise and focused as possible," Lev stresses. "If you get us on the phone or leave a message, keep it very brief. If you don't hear back, assume it wasn't relevant. We'll get back to you if we're interested." His additional tips:
• Afternoon deadlines are dead—pitch breaking news around the clock. "We are all doing much more with less. We have gone through buyouts—and staffs aren't as big as they used to be. On top of that, we all break news on the web now—at least, we're teaching our reporters to do that. Everybody is trying to develop that new muscle memory—breaking news around the clock," Lev says. "We'll post an alert and it'll just be three graphs on the web. Then we'll follow up with a more in–depth story on the second day." His advice: "Recognize we're on deadline all day—not just in the afternoon anymore. Also, recognize what gets play online and in print—and pitch accordingly. For example, don't pitch the breaking news item for the next day's paper."
To read more tips, including the power of the in-person lunch as well as the power of exclusivity, see the full story.