Phone vs. email

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By Danny Sullivan

In keeping with the “versus” theme this week, I’ve decided to take a quick look at the challenges faced by technology PR folk when deciding which method of communication to employ when following up with the media on that all important news release. Do you try endlessly for that (ahem) wonderful moment of personal contact when you actually get to speak to your target editor, or do you opt for the less touchy feely but more efficient email?

Of course, if we were talking about general story pitching, then email would win hands down, but the breaking news story is a bit different and often requires a swift response before the story goes cold.

When I put it like that, the phone seems naturally the best option, allowing you to catch the editor or reporter for a moment and help them to understand the real news value behind the email header they were so quick to skip over this morning. Indeed, if you are a skilled technology PR practitioner, you should have no problem handling such a call. But beware those who choose to call a reporter to simply read aloud the opening lines of the news release – not a good idea.

But, despite the fact that a phone call can be an effective contact method, it is becoming more and more difficult to raise busy news editors in this way. It’s understandable – there is a huge amount of technology news breaking every day, and those responsible for identifying and covering the key stories are very often swamped in a deluge of PR. This can sometimes lead to a simple reaction: ignore the phone.

In this case, you might try all day and never reach your desired contact. Increasingly, I am finding that a carefully worded (and brief) follow-up email to key targets can often be a very effective way to generate a quick response. This allows the harassed individual in the newsroom to read your email in a rare moment of downtime and, if you have chosen the right words, it will hopefully strike a chord and result in that ultimate reaction we all seek: interest.

At the end of the day, as you generate relationships with specific media contacts, you’ll get to know what kinds of communications methods work, and which don’t. Both phone and email are great tools in the hands of people who use them effectively.

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