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Concerning the do's and don'ts of following up news releases with media people, I'd like to offer a few observations and recommendations.
I have the honor of being the Editor-in-Chief of the Midwest Book Review and in that capacity receive virtually hundreds of publicity releases from publishers large and small, experienced and novice. I've also sat on numerous seminar panels and workshops down through the years and listened to my editorial peers talk about this subject.
Who -- who are you.
What -- what are you offering
Where -- where are you (address, phone, e-mail, Web site info, etc.)
When -- the appropriate timeliness of your publicity
How -- how can the editor make best use of what your offering
Why -- why should attention be paid to your PR out of all the hundreds of others
Then make certain that (like a newspaper article) your synopsis can be gotten from the first paragraph. The second expands on the first. The third on the second. And the entire publicity release does not exceed one page. The follow-up contact is concise and will not take more than 60 seconds to perform (unless made longer by the editor's requests and questions).
Literally read off the following questions (nothing will bug a busy editor more than to have the caller stumble around trying to articulate or describe what it is they want/need from the editor).
Use the world "confirm" because it is a not threatening, non-controversial term. And things get lost in the mail or overlooked in the organizational setup all the time.
Frame your "reason why" sentence carefully. You want to give that editor a persuasive explanation of why your news will do something good for them and their readers/viewers. What problem it will solve, what need it will meet, what good it will do, what question it will answer, what entertainment it will provide, etc.
If you've managed to intrigue the editor by this point, be prepared and able to supply author contact information, a review copy, more data, whatever is going to be needed if the editor decides he/she can make an article out of this, or a guest interview opportunity, or a staff assignment, etc.
Get on a first-name basis if you can, especially if you anticipate future dealings arising out of future publishing projects. Keep records of which editors seem good to deal with, and which ones are just too abrasive or uninterested to waste any of your time with on future project personalized follow-ups.
And if you've got some that have given you a good welcome and their time, send them a "Thank You" card stating your appreciation (regardless of whether or not this contact resulted in any concrete benefit for your current project). A "thank you" card will fix you in their memory as a person they won't mind hearing from again on future projects.
If you are going to do your own marketing then you must learn how. And that "learning curve" is best composed in part by reading "how to" books, in part by dialoguing with colleagues who have been there before you, and in part by your own experience. There are no shortcuts, no "magic pills." But neither do you have to reinvent the wheel. There are splendid examples that you can adapt to your own particular case and lots of sound advice from folks who have walked the path you've chosen to trod.
As a small press publisher, if you cannot invest a portion of your time in learning how to market effectively (and that includes media contact follow-ups), then you must either pay someone else to do it for you, or go into some other line of work.
Midwest Book Review
James A. Cox
Midwest Book Review
278 Orchard Drive
Oregon, WI 53575-1129
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