No one rolls with manners better than Southerners. I mean, they invented hospitality and graciousness. Being from Utah, I’ve been completely schooled in manners since I moved here. The way Southerners think is amazing and good manners really enrich your life. I think that one of the mistakes people make when reaching out to the media and bloggers is they forget their manners. People forget that the little things make the biggest difference. Being polite in your dealings with the media goes a long way towards building a good working relationship.
Before you call the media make sure your ducks are in a row. Do your homework, and have your mental and verbal pictures ready so you can deliver your pitch in a short amount of time. They’re busy. They want to hear the basics, the highlights and what you can deliver. Don’t waste their time; be ready to give your quick elevator speech. Come right to the point (after you’ve exercised good manners of course). Have multiple pitches. If they don’t like the first one, no problem! Go on to the second, or third. Like the good Boy Scout, always be prepared.
The first thing you need to ask when you have a journalist on the phone is whether it’s a good time to chat. These folks are really busy searching for stories and tips and leads. So if they’re engaged in other projects, ask if you might call back. You don’t want to speak to them then anyway—they’re so busy with other things that they won’t focus on what you want to say. Ask when might be a good time to call them back. This seems simple enough, but a surprising number of people don’t seem to get it. Don’t be one of them.
Finally, if they do interview you, be sure you acknowledge them every chance you get. They want their work known as much as you want to be known. By giving them credit, first you’ll be using good manners and second, you’ll get them on your side. That’s the endgame of all this work anyway. You want journalists, broadcasters and bloggers to be on your side. That way, your message has a much better chance of reaching your target audience. You have to work your own PR marketing campaign and doing your homework is just part of it.
So this is a good time to brush up on your social etiquette. Remember:
1 .Be prepared to give your pitch quickly, thoroughly and with excitement. If they don’t go for the first one, move on to the second… or third. Don’t take offense if they’re not interested. You never know when they might help you in the future. Leave them on good terms no matter what.
2 .Media people are busy. If they can’t talk to you when you call, thank them and ask when you may call again.
3 .Give credit where credit is due. If they understand you’re acknowledging them and keeping their name in front of the public, they’re much more likely to come to you again in the future for new story ideas. And that’s what you want: media who are hooked into what you do and return for more.
As we say in the South, “Y’all come back now.” Isn’t that the whole point?