May 4, 2011
While public relations isn't rocket science, it's also not a cakewalk. It takes considerable research, planning and wisdom to execute a good public relations and marketing plan. And by wisdom, I also mean common sense.
Before your first visit to a new doctor, accountant, lawyer or anyone else you plan to work with long-term, you probably research their background considerably. Take the same initiative when you contact members of the press. (Putting on my press hat ). I receive pitches each day about topics that simply don't apply to what I write about: New furniture lines, artists in Michigan, movies, viagra competitors. They clutter my inbox. Alternatively, good publicists send me pitches targeted to what I write. Here's an example I've come up with: "I read your article last week about the use of methyl iodide in strawberry farming. I represent Chef Jane Doe, whose May menu features strawberries from seven local growers. She's going to use them in seven different desserts and, on May 30, a panel of local dignitaries will vote for the most flavorful."
Good, relevant tie-in and a demonstrated knowledge of what I cover.
Real life example: I received a recent email from a marketing coordinator who pitched an event for one of my columns. I wrote about the event and she followed up to see whether it ran and on what date. She obviously doesn't read my column, which is fine personally, but not recommended professionally. I responded with the date it ran. A simple online search would turn up the article, but rather than doing that, she responded to my email. "Was this just a calendar posting or article? What section was it included in?" I only write one column in this particular publication and it's consistantly the same length and features the same type of information. She drove the nail in the coffin, asking me to do the work. She was writing a report for her client and was asking me to do part of her research.
Members of the press are busy. They write about our clients, doing them -- and us -- a great service. It's important not to waste their time. If they call you for an interview, fantastic! Don't ask them to email you their contact information so you can respond; write it down yourself. Make their life easy, because their work is not. Then, you'll have a press friend for life -- or as long as you choose to contact them. Research their work before pitching. In other work, measure twice, cut once.