In an editorial published March 27, ITBusiness online editor Shane Schick warned e-mail inboxes are not customer relationship management tools.

In “Your e-mail is important to us,” Schick noted customers often send queries to companies via e-mail, and when they don’t get a response right away, they get angry.

If you are in media relations, either for a vendor or for an agency, you may feel the same way when you are trying to reach an editor to get press coverage. If you’re smart enough to make a living from press relations, you’re probably smart enough to realize that you’re not one of our customers, and we are not your suppliers. But perhaps you often wonder why some of your e-mails don’t get an immediate response. Some media relations reps often call immediately after they send an e-mail, in the hopes that for some inexplicable reason, contacting a busy editor twice (thus making him or her even busier) will work better than contacting him or her once. Often they are disappointed to find out that not only are we sometimes too busy to answer your e-mail, but we are also too busy to return your phone call.

Go figure.

So is there any way of getting a response from an editor? Well, in the case of Communications & Networking magazine, there is a way to improve your chance of getting a response, and it’s easier than you think. Bearing in mind that the day you send your pitch is the same day hundreds of other PR people sent pitches, common sense can go a long way towards ensuring that your pitch stands out among the others.

First: send your email in plain text without any fancy fonts or HTML formatting that could easily be confused with a newsletter. Don’t bother attaching a fancy Word or PDF file. It’s far easier to delete an e-mail than to open the attachment. Second, and this is important: choose a subject line and first sentence that is pertinent to the subject matter of the magazine. For example, if you’re pitching to Car and Driver, wouldn’t you include information that’s at least remotely related to either cars or driving? It works the same way with technology trade magazines. For example, if you’re pitching to Communications & Networking, and there’s nothing in the subject line or the first sentence of the body that has something even remotely to do with either telecommunications or computer networking, then there’s a good chance your message will not be read. If you only put “press release” in your subject line, then it’s not going to stand out among the hundreds of other press releases. If, on the other hand, you put “Company X now shipping product Y for office voice and data network security,” that’s bound to get my attention. You won’t necessarily get a call back, but instead of filing it in the trash folder, I will probably file it in the products folder.

When you send a press release, should you include a long, rambling preamble about how networks help users get a return on investment, or some such drivel? Sure, go ahead, if it helps justify your existence to your client. But don’t expect a busy editor to read it. In short, if you’re pitching to a technology trade magazine, take a few moments to consider what they cover. After all, if your client is only in the business of making sofas, would you waste time trying to get coverage in Car and Driver?

 Greg Meckbach is editor of Communications & Networking.

gmeckbach@itbusiness.ca 

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