Dec 10

The Importance of Follow Calls

If you’re been in PR for any length of time, you know there are two kinds of practitioners: Those who see follow calls to the media as a necessary evil – and those who see them as a joy.

One of my colleagues is firmly in the latter camp.  She enjoys the interaction with the media and relishes an opportunity to reach out after a release has been sent.

I definitely fall in the former camp.  My philosophy has always been that if a journalist receives the information in the form of a press release or media pitch and is interested, then she or he will call.  If not, well, OK – perhaps next time.

So while I will make follow calls, it’s never one of my favorite things to do – nor does it top the list for most of my team.  I always feel like I’m bugging reporters.  This is reinforced by the somewhat-less-than-patient tone I often hear at the other end of the line.

But in today’s newsroom, they’ve become even more important than they were a decade ago.  Reporters are constantly bombarded with emails, texts, Facebook messages, tweets, LinkedIn messages – you name it, they’re receiving it.  So it’s little wonder that releases get overlooked under the avalanche of information.

I was reminded of the importance of follow calls again last week after we sent out a release for a client announcing a major expansion.  The timing was mandatory but not optimal – Friday morning, a day we never like to issue news.  A few nibbles, but no real interest – until one of our team started dialing.

Brian wound up talking with an AP reporter who thought it might be a good weekend story.  Brian followed up on Saturday and lo! – his persistence was rewarded with a story on the national wire.

The moral of the story provided an object lesson to me – and to all of our team:  Don’t assume that silence equals disinterest.  Take the extra step and make sure your news isn’t lost in the shuffle.

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