Tom Ciesielka is president of TC Public Relations (www.tcpr.net). Tom has over 25 years of marketing and public relations experience, working with individual lawyers and midsize law firms. He is also a former board member of the Legal Marketing Association in Chicago and has spoken at Chicago Bar Association CLE programs. Reach him at email@example.com.
At the beginning of this year, I shared a few ways that you can avoid annoying the media: be available, speak well and make your content fit. Over the past several months, I’ve noticed how some people I know, offline and online, have communicated with the media in ways that I think are quite irritating, and I wouldn’t be surprised if the media professionals they’ve contacted are now avoiding them. So I’ve decided to share a couple more ways to not annoy the media:
Ask them if they have time. If you want to call someone in the media, before launching into your statement or pitch, first ask them if it’s a good time for them to talk. For instance, if you’ve read a story that a journalist has written about a distressed property that is owned by your client and you feel that a phone call is more effective than an email, first say, “I represent the landlord. I was wondering if I could talk to you about that property that you wrote about. Is this a good time?” This is effective and considerate because many journalists are on tight deadlines, and even though they may want to talk to you, you might be calling when they have to be doing more pressing work. They will appreciate your politeness, which will help you in the long run.
Send small packages. In other areas of public relations, people who own businesses or are trying to promote movies will create large packages of promotional materials and other goodies that they think will convince the media that they should cover them. You might not be promoting the same types of projects or products, but if you’ve written a book or are promoting an event, avoid doing what people in those other professions do. If you want to stand out from others so that you’ll get coverage, send a small package or even a PDF of your publication. Some of the most successful columnists have tiny offices or cubicles, and they often feel overwhelmed by all the stuff they receive, and can even become apathetic. Content is important, and sometimes all it requires is a simple email or envelope with relevant material.
In addition to the two tips I’ve shared, there are some more obvious ones that you probably know, such as not spamming or repeatedly contacting the media via email, LinkedIn or Twitter. Sure, it’s important to be persistent, but sometimes you can become a pest if you’re trying super-hard to connect with a journalist who has already decided that your expertise does not fit. If they’re interested, they will contact you right away.