Phone call etiquette: 4 things journalists love

Even in this digital age, as a PR pro you’ll need to call a journalist at some point. When you do, remember these tips to stay on his good side.


Sometimes you need to pick up the phone to talk to a journalist. Maybe you want to follow up on a press release, get in touch quickly to retract a press release you sent too early, or correct some information.

Whatever the reason, there are certain rules you need to follow when you pick up the phone to call a journalist. Remember, journalists are busy, and their phones ring off the hook all day. It’s important to follow good phone etiquette when you call them so you can maintain good relationships and avoid being seen as a pest.

What can you do to make sure journalists don’t hate you when you call?

1. Know what you’re going to talk about before you call. Before you pick up the phone, know exactly what you need to tell the journalist. If there are a few things you need to tell him, jot them down on a piece of paper so you stay focused and don’t struggle to remember what you need to say. Get to the point!

2. Respect their time. Journalists are busy. When you call, they might not have much time to talk. Be respectful of this and get right to the point. When the journalist answers, ask if it’s a good time to talk. If she says she can’t talk right now, don’t push. Ask when would be a good time to call back, and let her go back to work.

3. Get back to them on time. If you’re working with a journalist on story and she needs to speak to you by a certain time, make sure you’re available. Get back to the journalist the same day she contacts you so she’s not waiting around for you. The more responsive you are, the better you position yourself to be a regular source.

4. Don’t call journalists who don’t want you to call them. Every journalist has a preferred method of being contacted. Some like to use the phone, and others don’t. If a reporter doesn’t like to get phone calls, make a note of this on your media list, and don’t call.

What are some other important things to keep in mind when you call journalists?

Mickie Kennedy is the CEO and founder of eReleases and blogs at PR Fuel, where a version of this article originally appeared.

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Topics: PR

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