This is the final of four posts on how to write a press release. Each post will focus on a different aspect of press release writing. This post focuses on follow-up.
Once you’ve written the release and sent it to the appropriate outlets, you’re done, right?
You need to follow who did and didn’t pick up the release and why. If it’s a simple promotion or hiring of anything but a top executive at a large company, the release might not see the light of day in all but media that run all announcements and maybe some local press. Though your client might think it’s important, in today’s battle for eyeballs (and for space, particularly in print), it’s just not that important to most of the audience.
Other times, you might have what you believe to be a good release, with good information for the media and for its audience, but the timing could be wrong. Who knows how many releases were ignored following 9-11? I know of a bank that had a huge press event planned – much more involved than a simple release – the day the Challenger blew up. No one showed up for the event.
If using one of the wire services to post releases, you get whichever outlets might pick it up. If sending out targeted releases, contact some of the top targets:
- Was the release received? It may have just gotten buried in a crush of e-mails or gotten tied up in a spam filter.
- Who is the correct contact person (it may have changed)?
- What types of releases are the editors and reporters interested in?
- Are there upcoming features where the release information may be useful (review the editorial calendar for potential recommendations)?
But undertake care with such follow-ups. If you’re sending a lot of releases on plenty of mundane items, even a good, information-packed release is likely to be ignored. Also, editors/reporters are busier than ever as print and online publications cut staff. They won’t respond well to too many follow-ups or follow-ups about mundane items. So you might want to turn any overlooked release on their part into an opportunity to introduce yourself and ask the contact what types of releases/information for which they might be looking. You might still send other releases (you can don’t want to overly cull a distribution list), but this will give you an idea when a specific release should get attention from the editor/reporter and a follow-up e-mail or phone call is warranted.
What are your thoughts?
Phil Britt is a 30-year writing veteran and has operated his own firm, S&P Enterprises, Inc.,(firstname.lastname@example.org) for the last 17 years, with articles appearing in many national publications, primarily in financial services and technology. He has worked with companies and PR firms from around the country, some as a journalist, and others as a subcontractor (never working on the same item “from both sides of the desk.”).