Media relations

F is for follow-up call

The A to Z of media relations
Supported by Unicepta
F is for Follow up Call

Imagine receiving a piece of unwanted mail.

And then receiving a phone call to check you had received that unwanted mail.

Yes, we’re talking about the follow up call: ‘I’m just ringing to check that you received the press release.’

Of course, not every press release is viewed as unwanted mail. But a fair few might be.

Most journalists recognise that the person making the dreaded follow up call is usually one of the most junior members of the PR team, who is already petrified at the thought of speaking to a journalist, and try not to be too rude.

But they are also only human. You might not be the first PR that day to ring about an irrelevant press release. They might be waiting on an urgent call and you’re now blocking that line. Or it may be deadline time.

Ah yes, deadline time. It doesn’t matter how many times journalists join webinars and panel discussions and beg PRs not to ring on deadline if it’s not urgent, they still do so. On occasion they even choose that time to check in about releases embargoed for another day: journalists love those calls. But often they call at deadline time because they do not understand its significance. Or they simply don’t know what those times are.

Some journalists claim they receive hundreds of press releases every day. That may be an exaggeration, but every hack will have a system for quickly scanning their in-box to check for anything that may be news-worthy or that prompts a germ of a story. If they are interested in what you have sent, they will make contact.

If you are lucky enough to make a follow up call about a release that has piqued their interest, you have the perfect opportunity to provide more insight or to offer an interview with a key spokesperson. Don’t throw that away by not being prepared.

But before you make any follow up calls though, think about your answer to a journalist’s question: why should this be of interest to me? If you can’t think of a single reason, then you really shouldn’t make the call.

And finally, if the journalist says they are not interested in the release, do not – and especially on deadline time – ask which of their colleagues might be. You might not like the answer you get.