The manners your mother taught you might seem like common sense, but no one is too busy for a quick reminder of the idiosyncrasies of common decency.
Like many of you, the majority of my work in consumer PR is conducted online, so it’s important to pay attention to how we’re communicating in this space.
Punctuation equals tone
Punctuation can go a long way to emphasize your tone. While it's never good to load your content with exclamation points, using them sparingly will show your genuine enthusiasm. For example:
Great news. We just confirmed that the (product) is going to be featured as the main story in the print edition of the tech section in USA Today. The editor loved the features and plans on including several high-res images. Furthermore, she is recommending your product over your biggest competitor, X."
That reads extremely dull and uninterested. This is excellent news for your client - be sure that they can feel your genuine excitement! Try a good balance:
Great news! We just confirmed that the (product) is going to be featured as the main story in the print edition of the tech section in USA Today. The editor loved the features and plans on including several high-res images. Furthermore, she is recommending your product over your biggest competitor, X!"
You aren't over or underwhelmed by this approach; it shows excitement without reading like you're screaming at your client.
[For another take, read PR Daily’s “Exclamation points: Don’t get carried away!”]
Have relationships, not just contacts
Relying on email and social media to communicate with editors, producers, and clients on a regular basis is the easiest approach. While technology has enabled us to talk to an immense amount of people daily, we shouldn’t let it strip away the art of conversation.
There are certain situations that require personal communication instead of social media, and you should care enough to know when it’s best to pick up the phone or have a face-to-face conversation (if it's possible). These types of proactive measures keep our interpersonal skills sharp and our conversations less robotic.
Emails should be replied to as quickly as possible, certainly by the end of the day. If you post a blog
, pose a question on Facebook, or send a newsy tweet, chances are you’re going to get some responses. Even if you can’t reply to everyone, you should take a few minutes to acknowledge the feedback—and not just from the familiar faces.
Reach out respectfully
When developing a strategic media outreach plan, start by getting to know each journalist as an individual. Don’t contact them only when you need something. Follow them on Twitter, offer them story ideas (not just about your client), share your thoughts on their articles, and promote them when the appropriate opportunity presents itself. When done correctly, the PR and press relationship should be symbiotic.
Always say, “Thank you”
We all get caught up in our work, meeting deadlines, scheduling meetings, etc. But when someone does a favor for you—helps you out or offers you their time—it’s never OK to ignore their act of kindness. A quick and prompt thank you lets you show your gratitude and sincerity. To really stand out, send a handwritten thank you note.
Tenaya Bookout is an account executive at Orange Public Relations, a division of BLASTmedia. Follow her on Twitter at @tenayabookout.