Should you follow up on that press release you sent me?

Jeremy Porter over at Journalistics recently surveyed several journalists regarding a personal pet peeve of mine: follow-up phone calls on the part of PR professionals.

So far, he’s found that the vast majority of journalists – 76 percent – are fine with follow-up phone calls.

Here’s the catch: This is only OK with them if the pitch is 1. relevant and 2. time-sensitive.

I myself would have fallen into the 12 percent who hate follow-up phone calls. Most of the time, when PR reps call me to reference particular press releases, I’ve so long ago forgotten what the since-deleted release was about, I end up stammering, “Um, and what was this in reference to?” I try not to be terribly mean about it, but if I don’t respond to a pitch, it’s really because I’m not interested. End of story.

Of course, my situation is a bit different. I’m the editor of a business-to-business publication that covers one topic area, and only certain niches within that topic area. To boot, we have a very specific editorial mission and lots of oft-pitched stories we don’t cover (like personnel changes and proprietary product releases).

As a result, I can usually tell at a glance whether a press release will be useful to me.

This is why I wish there were more directory services available for PR reps – services that list relevant contacts at media outlets, as well as their beats and preferred methods of contact. And why I wish more reps used such available directories (or, more specifically: why I wish these were more affordable for all reps to use).

As a side note, surveys like this lead to another question for me. There are no shortage of “from the horse’s mouth” type surveys, articles, and blog posts designed to help PR reps do their jobs better and approach editors, reporters, etc. in a more effective manner. But what types of reps read these things? Probably reps who are already inclined toward doing a better job (and hence probably holding journalists in higher respect anyway).

My point is, if you’re a bad rep and you’re pitching to people who don’t cover what you’re pitching, blanketing them with press releases, hounding them, and generally being rude – you’re probably not reaching for professional development.

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