Calling Editors? Tips for PR Phone Etiquiette.
If you are lucky enough to have PR support, good for you!!! But for many retailers and wholesalers, managing their own publicity is part of their long tasks of to-dos.
To help support you in your PR efforts, consider the following points next time you pick up the phone to call an editor or other media contact.
- Make sure you are respecting the time of day you call an editor. Avoid Mondays and early mornings. Tuesdays through Thursdays in the late mornings or early afternoons tend to be a fair time across the board. By Friday, no one’s mind is on work as much as it is in the other parts of the week, so save your pitch for another day.
- Always introduce yourself to an editor, even if you have spoken with her many times before. They are very busy people who have countless conversations a day. Politely say who you are without expecting them to ever remember your name – although always hoping they do.
- Before going into your monologue about why you are calling, ask your contact if they have a quick minute to talk. This shows you respect their time and also identifies that you don’t want to take up too much of their time. Make sure you quickly point out that you will make the call fast and that you know they are busy.
- If you have to leave a message, speak clearly and quickly. Identify 1) who you are 2) what the name of your store or brand is 3) why you are calling and 4) how you can be reached.
- Hold off until 36 hours before calling your contact again if you still have not heard from them. Chances are they are busy. If they don’t plan to call you either way, your second (or third) call will let them know you are persistent and professional. Remember to be polite and never point blame on them for not getting in touch with you.
- When speaking, give them enough information that they gain interest in your pitch without them having to feel like they need to dig for the story. Be quick, concise and clear in your delivery. Every word counts. And remember – tell them newsworthy information, not just fluff.
- Return phone calls in a timely fashion. Don’t make them hunt you down like you may have had to hunt them down because they won’t. The competition is tough for press coverage, so get back to them right away or better yet, answer their call right away.
- Before calling your contact, give them time. If you have already sent them a press release via email, don’t slam them with phone calls within the same week. Let some time register before following up. A week is a fair amount of time between your first outreach and initial follow up.
Of course having good phone etiquiette is just one small part to the entire PR mix. You need to also consider how you deliver your content (press releases, via email, via online services, etc.) and your timeline. Depending on who you are pitching, you should refer to their unique PR calendar so that you know 1) what kind of stories they may be looking for and 2) what day / week / month they are working on for future coverage. For example, a magazine editor in May is likely already thinking about Fall.
Finally, always remember to kill your PR contact with kindness. Let them throw their weight around – not you. Of course, hopefully they won’t play that role but it’s likely they might… and can get away with is. So smile and toughin’ up. PR isn’t always an easy game, but it’s certainly one worth getting in.