Answering requests from journalists for comment, launch details or products for review should be pretty easy, right?
A myriad of media professionals from across the UK media send requests straight through to the inboxes of relevant PRs with the Journalists Enquiry Service every day. That means plenty of opportunities to get it right, but taking even one chance on sending something irrelevant can result in a very annoyed journalist. Are you replying with what journos are actually asking for?
Find out more about the ResponseSource Journalist Enquiry Service and book a demo here.
To make sure your replies are relevant, here are dos and don’ts from three journalists writing for national, regional, consumer and trade titles regularly using the service:
Samantha Brick, freelance journalist for titles including the Daily Mail and The Sun…
Do: ‘Email is best for getting in touch, WhatsApp okay in an emergency/deadline.’
Don’t: ‘Phone out of the blue (I usually have interviews lined up in the day).’
Useful PRs? ‘Specialist PRs who work in the wellness/spiritual world are fantastic. They send case studies and information that I can – and do – use and that’s because they read what I write.’
One more thing: ‘Most PRs who get in touch with me have a good idea of what I do and offer only appropriate press releases, profiles of individuals – thanks!’
A freelance journalist and columnist for consumer magazines…
Do: ‘Read the request in full and answer the request itself rather than just sending something over. Be as specific as possible in your response. “I have a couple of experts; shall I send over” probably won’t receive a response if I have asked for experts in the request… just send the suggestions from the get-go with information about what you have sent is relevant to what I am working on. Sometimes journalist receive so many responses that there really isn’t time to respond to vague or irrelevant emails.’
Don’t: ‘Follow up super quickly… I understand why you do this, but usually it takes time to get back to people especially as journalists have to speak to editors, etc, and figure out which suggestions from the enquiry work best. Also, please do not send stuff that is irrelevant to the query unless there is a REALLY good reason for it.’
Useful PRs? ‘They explain who they are, who they are working for, why what they are sending is relevant and information on what a potential interviewee will speak about or even some quotes to use… or what they can provide. Very simple and easy.’
One more thing: ‘Even if you have a journalist’s number do not call them or text them without their permission. Not okay!’
An interiors journalist writing for the Metro…
Do: ‘Read the callout! Often there are specific requests and details that don’t work if not in the reply. A specific pic, detail, etc. Maybe 30% of replies I get aren’t relevant or fit at all. When there is 100 replies to go through, this can mean half hour wasted.
‘Make sure the person is available, too. It can be a bit chicken-and-egg but often I get replies from people where, say, I’m looking for someone who has bought a first home. After a week of back-and-forth they tell me actually that person doesn’t want to talk property…
‘Have everything ready, if poss. If I need a great pic to go with it, if this takes two weeks to source it might fall to the bottom of the pile!’
Don’t: ‘Send tenuously linked (or not linked at all) ideas. I’m looking for a sportsperson for interview so sending a press release on a new nutri bar doesn’t really help me.’
Useful PRs? ‘Anyone who doesn’t need to check with a dozen people to get a green light, then put five people to oversee a zoom call. I like it when PRs show confidence in their clients and work with me to get it all out the way as soon as poss. As a freelancer, you don’t get paid for endlessly chasing.’
One more thing… ‘RS is a great service and without it and all the PRs signed up I’m not sure how I would do my job tbh, so keep up the great work!’
Want to get the most out of the ResponseSource Journalist Enquiry Service? Here is more advice on how to respond to requests from journalists as well as reasons to try the service before searching #JournoRequest on Twitter.