PR pros miss major media opportunities by failing to do two simple things.
Yes, just two simple things.
As a writer, editor and content marketing strategist, I frequently reach out online to corporate PR representatives or executives to obtain information or arrange interviews for articles, blog posts and other content I’m creating. It’s a crucial part of the process.
However, that online outreach often hits a dead end (and it doesn’t have to).
Here are the two things I encounter all the time that some PR folks and corporate executives irritatingly aren’t doing:
1. You’re not monitoring your company’s info@ email address.
I’ve lost track of how many times, over the years, I have sent an email to an info@ email address and then never hear a peep from a single soul.
Is there some black hole out there where all those emails go? If you have an info@ email address posted on your website, monitor it. Don’t let it become an email graveyard.
You never know when The New York Times or CNN might be trying to get in touch with you—only to give up when no one responds.
From the perspective of a writer and editor, it’s frustrating when the only email address I can find on a company’s website is the info@ address and then that email is ignored. Yes, I could pick up the phone and call the company, but sometimes I don’t have the time; other times, the lack of a response to an info@ email sours me on that company.
2. You’re not updating the media contacts on your website.
For whatever reason, quite a few companies don’t pay attention to who’s listed as a media contact on their websites.
A number of times, I’ve sent an email to a person identified on a website as a PR representative, only to receive a bounce-back message in return.
In some cases, the bounce-back message says that Charlie Brown no longer works for the company and provides the name and email address of a current PR contact. In other cases, though, there’s no indication of another contact. In extreme circumstances, I’ll get bounce-back emails from several contacts I’ve tried at a single company.
Again, this is frustrating, and a frustrated journalist is a grumpy journalist—one who’s likely to hunt for a source at another company to flesh out a story.
What can your organization do about this? Make sure the media contacts on your website are current.
If Charlie Brown no longer works there, then his name and email address should be removed from your website, and the current PR representative’s name and email address should replace Charlie’s.
By the way, adding a contact form to your website is a poor substitute for posting the names and email addresses (and phone numbers) of your company’s media contacts. Whenever I encounter a contact form for the media, two thoughts pop into my head: I feel like I’m filling out a lead generation form, and I feel as though I’m never going to hear back from anyone at your company.
The answer to all of this is to be transparent online about who the appropriate media contacts are at your company, and not to force journalists to reach out to an impersonal info@ email address or a nonexistent employee nor complete yet another contact form.
Maybe you work at a gigantic company and don’t want to post specific email contacts for fear that customers will bombard you with messages. In that instance, a press@ email address works just fine—as long as the messages that land there aren’t relegated to email Siberia.
Are there any other overlooked PR opportunities you think communications pros are missing?
John Egan is a writer, editor and content marketing strategist in Austin, Texas. A version of this article originally appeared on Muck Rack, a service that enables you to find journalists to pitch, build media lists, get press alerts and create coverage reports with social media data.