A Word to My PR Homies: On Sending Access and Materials

Hey, holmes!

I’m going through a stack of about 50 new emails at the moment, and you guys have really done me proud today! I’ve got a ton of interesting products, new features, and great stories to go through. However, some of them are so interesting that I’m disappointed I don’t already have more access.

Which brings me to the topic of today’s post:

Don’t ask. Send.

Hokay. So.

Here’s the thing: If you send a release about a new site or product in private beta, please assume we’re going to want to cover it and send any logins, documents, images, or access we might need. Asking a journalist if he wants access to a new, privately released product is like asking a dog if it wants bacon.

We want it.

I know there are many reasons you guys do this. It takes time to set up test accounts. You have a limited number of beta invites. You don’t want anything leaked.

But while we’re waiting for your response, which can take many hours, our deadline is creeping up and your story is cooling in our minds. Worse yet, if we check messages at night or over the weekend (see W2MPRH: On When to Pitch), it could be a day or longer before we read your reply and get the information we need to begin reviewing the site/product.

Perhaps you’ll need to send the release to a smaller, more trusted group than your general tech journo mailing list, but the conversion rate of press release-to-published post would likely be the same or better. And you can always send a release sans logins/pics/PDFs/URLs to your entire list of press contacts.

Word to My PR Homies #7: Send materials and access first, ask questions later.

What do you guys think? Is this a reasonable request from one professional to another, or are we journalists just being a bunch o’ babies again? (Wink, wink.)

Love you guys, and hope you each had a wonderful day!

2 thoughts on “A Word to My PR Homies: On Sending Access and Materials

  1. Ah, but you’re not recognizing the art of the “cryptic pitch.”

    For a journalist who you’ve never worked with before, if your story is very complicated, throwing the whole thing at them, even in inverted pyramid form, can be overwhelming and make you appear hungry for coverage.

    It can be very effective to deliver the news with a slice of mystery. This allows you to engage them in a dialogue — you just need to get to the point quickly after you’ve gotten that initial bite so you’re not wasting anyone’s time.

    Here’s an example of a “cryptic pitch” I used this Friday with the Associated Press:

    “Hi [NAME],

    I have a story about how a well-known international company based in [CITY] is about to help [NUMBER-NUMBER] socially-conscious [DEVELOPING COUNTRY] businesses get off the ground.

    Is this something you might like to hear more about?”

    The AP’s response:

    “Aw, jeez. How can I not reply. Please send details!”

    Now I’m having a conversation with this reporter, sharing detailed information and developing the story alongside them. For an outlet this competitive, I wouldn’t have gotten this far this fast I’d come out of the gate, pitch, press release and fact sheet blazing.

    If the reporter is unresponsive to this cryptic approach, you’ve still got the opportunity to change your approach and dish it all out fresh.

    Everyone likes a mystery. For reporters, the love of mystery is in their DNA.

  2. @Adam – Stay tuned! A couple days ago, I wrote and scheduled tomorrow’s post, which deals with this specific topic: Having personality and getting creative/weird.

    It can be intriguing!

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