- Do not provide insufficient or wrong information to the media. Press releases must be complete, accurate and specific. Always include a contact name and phone number.
- Releases should be no longer than two pages. The media doesn't have time to read lengthy documents.
- When the media calls, respond immediately. Reporters are usually on tight deadlines. If you don't know the answer to a question, tell the reporter that you will find out and get back to him/her within a certain time frame. Don't call at the beginning of the day (9:00am sharp) or at the end (4:51pm). People need time to get organized, settled or finish stories.
- Always return a reporter's telephone call. If you have to leave a message, include your telephone number and a convenient time when you're most available to talk.
- Do not call after you send a release. Questions like "Did you get my news release?" or "Do you know when it will be printed?" will brand you as a nuisance. Don't hound or stalk reporters thinking that persistence pays. If editors find your story interesting, they will call you.
- Prior to sending a release, double-check to see if the person to whom you are sending the news release still works there and holds the same title. Find out the exact name of the reporter/editor, spell the name correctly and use the name in the salutation of the letter. "Dear Editor" letters are a dead give-away that you have no idea who's in charge.
- You may at one time or another be tempted to express your appreciation by sending a gift to a reporter who wrote a wonderful article about you and your company. It is perceived as unethical to accept gifts or free lunches in the journalism industry. Gifts of any kind may be misinterpreted as a bribe. The best way to say thanks is to send a holiday card or a hand written thank-you note instead.
Jacqueline Whitmore, founder and director of The Protocol School of Palm Beach. She presents seminars in business etiquette, international protocol and customer services strategies. She has been featured in Glamour, the Meeting Professional, Association Trends, and the Associated Press. For more information, call (561) 586-9026 or email her at . To receive Whitmore's free ezine, THE PROTOCOL POST, visit her web site at www.etiquetteexpert.com