I'm going to continue on the media relations theme today, because I was confronted yesterday by a worst-practice scenario that's worth sharing.
I write a monthly business article for the Carrboro Citizen, and I hear from a lot of folks wanting to promote their enterprises. This is great, of course, because it helps me find interesting ventures and issues to share with my readers. And in most cases, people are very nice about asking for coverage. They know it's a choice that my editors and I make and that simply giving me the information doesn't mean it'll appear in print. Others, sadly, just don't get it.
Following are some examples of worst practice from one source. Please don't do these things if you want to develop a good working relationship with reporters (and you do, don't you?)
1. Skip the subject line. I may know your name, but when I'm busy (which is most of the time), the last emails I read are those without a subject line. And if I don't recognize your name? I'll delete your email without even looking at it. My reasoning: if it's not important enough for you to bother to give me a clue as to why you're contacting me, it's not important enough for me to worry about.
2. Apply the screws. Statements like "I spoke to your publisher yesterday" don't endear me to you. On the contrary, they make me feel like you're pressuring me and that you have some expectation of coverage. Keep in mind that if my editor or publisher doesn't mention her conversation with you to me, I figure she doesn't care one way or the other if I do it, and you look like a name-dropping tool.
3. Skip the pleasantries. It may be old-fashioned or maybe I'm just being Southern, but please and thank you still matter to me. Want me to do something -- or even think about doing something? A little sugar will go a long way. But no sugar? No chance.
4. Misspell my name. I know we all make mistakes, and I've made this one myself. So I might give you a pass on this most of the time, but if you've committed any of the previous sins, you get no mercy. It's just rude to misspell someone's name, especially when it's so easy to check these days.
If you want to get coverage for you enterprise/issue, be nice about it -- even if the reporter can't make it happen for you. Why? At some point, we're going to need someone like you for a story. When it comes down to two equally qualified sources, the one who's been helpful and nice always wins out over the one who's been bossy and rude. You've been advised.
More on media relations:
A subtler approach to media relations
And a few more words on manners: