Surprise! PR People Need To Hear These Words More Often From Media

May 3rd, 2013 by Matt Friedman

Yes-Checkboxes-Blackboard-1070271It was just three simple words. It took no more than three seconds to write and send. But it was so refreshing, it should be a model of communication.

“No thank you.”

That was the simple email I received back from a media decision-maker who we have worked with for more than a decade. She just wasn’t interested in the story I pitched her, and that was perfectly fine as it’s her job to make those decisions. At least I had an answer, which can be hard to come by these days.

We respect and appreciate the job of the journalist. We understand one of the toughest parts of working in traditional media these days must be contending with the email inbox. We know that too many PR people have no idea how to target a pitch or offer real news and, instead, they “throw it all on the wall and see what sticks.” We even worked with someone years ago who insisted on pitching a feature on a local shopping area to CNN. We also receive emails that are way too long and have trouble getting to the point or have cryptic subject lines. So we know the inbox is filled with more garbage than reporters, editors and producers could possibly answer. It must be really, really annoying.

We know you have more to do than ever before and less help to do it. That’s why we work hard to narrow things down as much as possible before deciding to contact you in the first place.

So, here’s a suggestion that would help us all work better together in this modern age – when it’s an email from a familiar sender or a subject line about a familiar company or organization, or whenever it’s possible to spare a few seconds – please respond.

When you don’t answer, we don’t know what to make of it. Did you not read it? Are you on vacation? Are you not interested? Are you just busy? Should we call? Should we wait a few days? Sometimes, it makes dating seem downright straightforward.

“No thank you” made me want to thank the sender, much to her surprise. But, it meant we didn’t have to call to follow-up. It actually prevented annoyance.

So, whenever possible, something like “I like it. Give me a week,” or “Sorry – just not a fit” or “I’ll call you later” or “call me at 2 p.m.” takes literally just a few seconds and would really be appreciated, especially when we know each other. Most importantly, it prevents an annoying phone call, a second email or even the dreaded, ugly and not recommended “I want to make sure you received the release.” Anytime that can be prevented, it has to be considered a step in the right direction.

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