There is little that
irritates reporters more than trying unsuccessfully to
reach a company contact person to follow up on a press
release. Itís time to take a look at just how
accessible you are. Here are some key issues to
First of all, make sure that
the contact number on your press release or media kit is
a direct line to a live person. Never intentionally
place a journalist into a phone tree or voicemail. The
best of all worlds is to have the actual contact person
answer the phone.
With todayís technology,
even the smallest company should be able to answer a
journalistís call immediately. There are programs
available that will forward your calls to any number,
even programs that can forward to sequential numbers.
That way, if you are not in the office, the call can go
to your cell phone, your home, or any number you direct
it to Ė even ringing all numbers at once!
Second, have a reliable
backup plan. If the contact person is not available
(and the only excuse should be that they are on the
phone with another journalist), then designate another
employee to provide background and to schedule a return
call at the earliest opportunity. The worst thing you
can do to journalists on deadline is to leave them in
limbo. They might immediately can your story and go to
Third, be sure you have
collateral material available immediately. If you have
quoted any third parties, keep their contact information
close at hand. Any resources you have used to write a
press release should be available as well. Background
information, brochures and catalogs, and any other
pertinent material should be ready to be delivered
immediately, either over the Internet or via express
delivery. Donít let a story go cold because you arenít
Fourth, when at all possible
make yourself available for live interviews in person.
If the journalist is local, offer to meet them at their
offices or at a convenient location of their choice.
Finally, be sure to
acknowledge and appreciate the attention the journalist
has shown you. Of the hundreds of releases and pitches
they got that day, they chose to follow yours. By being
accessible, being prepared, and appreciating their
responses you can make the most of your opportunity.