Your Partnership and the Media - Following up a Media Release

So your partnership has got a big event, major announcement, launch or success story it wishes to publicise, and you've followed the partnerships Brokerage Service Help Sheet Your Partnership and the Media - Preparing and Writing Media Releases in compiling and sending out some publicity material.

But it is not the time to just sit back, rest on your laurels and hope that the inquiries start rolling in from the media – you have to follow up your media release to make sure it has hit the mark.

The first thing you should do is ring the people who you sent the information to. You may send your faxed or emailed press release to 20 people, but only 3 have got it due to faulty faxes, computer systems being down, people being out of the office, general mix-ups etc.

All of a sudden your big media event turns into a small gathering of friends and relatives, with virtually no media coverage at all.

This checklist of do's and do not's can help you follow up your media release and ensure your event/announcement/launch gets the maximum coverage possible.

DO

Build your media contacts. Ring the media outlet to make sure the releases got through to who they were meant to.

Talk to the right person.
  • Either ask for the person you sent the release to, or talk to the person who has actually received it.
  • Don't assume because you directed the release to a certain person that they are the ones handling it – they may be away, have left for a new job or be out on an interview.
Leave a message if your contact has got the release, but is not in the office.
  • That message could be that you will ring back in an hour or two if you don't hear from them.
Keep ringing if your contact is not there or hasn't got back to you.
  • But there is no need to ring so often as to make a pest of yourself.
Offer to fax another copy of the press release if they haven't got one.

Offer to be interviewed or have a chat about the story.


Be willing to set up a photo opportunity.

  • The chance for a photo opportunity could provide a big boost to any story about your partnership and its activities.
  • Be prepared to set one up, and if asked, tentatively organise a time with the journalist before confirming it through relevant partnership members.
Mention the partnership and its partners in the story.

Emphasise the human element.

  • Where possible, talk about the difference your partnership is making in human terms, and how many people it is helping out. That will prompt more interest from media outlets.
Understand how busy journalists can be.
  • Journalists in the media, particularly local ones, can often have heaps of things going on at once – for example, one journalist at a local newspaper could have 5-10 stories on the go at the same time.
  • This means you need to make allowances for it – although it doesn't mean you should let them get away with ignoring you!
Offer to set up something following an event if journalists can't make it to actual event.
  • Also consider sending out further info to the journalist after the event.
Learn to take no for an answer if it is reasonable and the journalist can explain why.  But also ask why something did not work out.
  • While you should be willing to take no for an answer in some circumstances, there is no reason why you can't ask the journalist what you can do better next time.

DO NOT

Annoy the journalist you are talking to.
  • Apart from being bad form, annoying the journalist you are trying to work with will not bring about positive results – and will probably leave a black mark next to the name of your partnership at that particular media outlet.
Abuse the journalist because they didn't follow up your release or they aren't interested.
  • For all their efforts, the media are limited by time and space and can't cover everything that is going on.
  • Instead of abusing the journalist, it is better you ask them why they didn't follow up the release or weren't interested – you never know, the journalist could suggest improvements you could put to use the next time you contact the media.
Unnecessarily "play" the journalist/media outlet against a competitor.
  • Some people suggest that if one media outlet is not interested in covering your partnership story, you should threaten them with going to their direct competitor with the story. Simply put - don't do it. It is likely one of two things will happen:
    • The journalist (particularly a local journalist) will call your bluff and tell you to go away because you are too much trouble – meaning not only will you get no coverage from them for this event, but will be unlikely to get any coverage at any time in the future, or.
    • The journalist will do the story only out of "duty", grumbling all the time about how you held them to ransom, and really won't want to deal with you again.
  • Journalists don't like being overtly played off against each other, even to the extent of some being willing to not do a story if you have rubbed them the wrong way.
  • Instead of threatening to go to another media outlet, what you are better to do if the journalist is not interested is to:
    • Thank them for their time and hold your tongue until your conversation is over.
    • Then feel free to approach the next media contact on your list. A journalist worth their salt will have taken into account the possibility of you approaching another media outlet when refusing to cover your story. It is therefore their judgement call, be it right or wrong, and the consequences of their newspaper missing the story are on their head.
Just leave a message on voice-mail.
  • You are not assured of getting through to the people you want to talk to. If you have to leave a message, leave one with a person.
Take no for an answer if you don't think they have reasonable or fair reasons not to cover your partnership event.
  • Try another way to convince the media to take up the story. Try another pitch, provide more information, or explain yourself better.
  • Importantly, don't sound desperate - just sound keen to see a story on your partnership get done.
Forget to mention everyone involved.
  • You're in a partnership, make sure you mention everyone involved in it – not just some people or one of the partnership partners.

This list is not exhaustive, but the best thing you can do is to ensure you have a good contact list or journalists and a good rapport with each of them. The Help Sheet Media Contacts, available at the partnerships Brokerage Service at the Our Community website, can provide you with ways you can do this.

By building up your relationship with the media, they'll come to know you and what your partnership is about. This should eventually mean you are more likely to receive coverage from them.