OK, so let’s talk about this Tweet.
I understand where the PR practitioners who are sending the emails described in that excerpt are coming from. They are doing what their clients or employers want them to do, which is be included in conversations. The stakes are even higher given many are playing the content marketing game, with lots of pages and blog posts going up that gain value if a highly-read and respected site or publication links to them.
It’s a variation on the kinds of emails or phone calls PR people used to send and make. First it was to see if there was a reason the company they represent wasn’t included in a story about their industry. Then it was to see if the online story could be updated to include a mention. Now they want a link as well.
What I’ve found in my experience is that such conversations not only often are unwelcome by the journalist but they arrive far too late to have any measurable benefit. Not only that, but usually don’t do much good because the journalist has moved on to other stories and doesn’t have the time or interest to go back and revise their previous work unless it contains factual inaccuracies.
Instead there are three kinds of conversations to have or messages to send that come off as far less pushy and demanding and much more helpful and informative.
#1 Here’s a Resource For You
When you have a corporate blog or other informational site that *could* be of use to the media, let them know about it and tell them how they can stay current on what’s published there. You want to create long-term readers, something journalists consume regularly so they can see what kind of perspectives you’re offering on current news and keep that in mind when or if they’re writing something about it.
#2 Interesting, Have You Considered… ?
Instead of asking for corrections or changes to an existing piece, offer the writer or editor something different to consider the next time they are about to tackle similar subject matter. This isn’t about chastising them for something they may have overlooked, it’s about giving them something new to keep in mind the next time the wheel lands on that particular topic or theme. Or even more broadly, it’s about creating awareness so even if it’s off-topic the journalist might proactively pick up the phone for a quote or comment.
#3 Cool Stuff
There’s actually no ask or request attached to this one. It’s just a “I liked your story and got a lot out of it” message that’s just meant to say you appreciate the work the journalist has done. I’m not saying there aren’t ulterior motives related to establishing a relationship behind doing so, just that every communications between a PR person and a journalist doesn’t need to be directly transactional.
The best part of all these – and other tactics – are that they create dialogue. They open up the lines of communication through which benefits in the form of coverage, links and more will flow. All of which come with no overt or awkward requests, just the offer of help in the future.