1. Hello out there!
How can I find you? Most people didn’t give me their full contact information. I know this sounds ludicrous, but not only did people not include their website or phone number, but they often had a gmail, hotmail or other free account so even when I tried to Google them I couldn’t find their website. Maddening. One PR person didn’t even leave her name! (This frightens me deeply).
Please give the media every single option you have to get in touch with you and let them choose the medium they prefer. Include your phone, cell, email, website, blog, facebook, and a direct link to your media page. And, need I say it, your full name?
2. Just call me.
A few people said things like, “Call me, I’m happy to talk to you and answer your questions.” No. I asked you questions in my query that I wanted you to answer so I could determine if I wanted to talk to you. You need to give me a reason to WANT to get more information. It’s called a tease. A few people gave me general, boring information that anyone in their field could have supplied.
On the other hand you don’t want to give me everything because then I won’t need to call you. Just give me enough to peak my interest. And please give me answers to the questions I asked.
3. My life story blah, blah, blah.
There were others who gave out too much information. Stuff that may be interesting in another context, but wasn’t what I asked for. I’m on a deadline and I only want the information that I requested.
4. You’re stupid.
In my query, as an example of what I wanted, I quoted research from another source and one person told me that it was “ludicrous”. Well, that got my attention, but it didn’t give me a warm fuzzy feeling about him. I suspect he did it for the shock value. That worked. He had some interesting things to say, but I may or may not contact him. Is he rash or bullheaded? Not sure if I can take someone so flip seriously.
5. I have a friend who…
People wrote in to tell me to contact their friend, but don’t tell me why he/she would be right for my story. Just that he/she would be perfect for me. Why would I believe a stranger who is biased?
6. Are there specific questions you need answered?
Uh, yeah. Don’t ask me this when I listed several in the query. Very specifically, actually. This person answered my query very briefly, but didn’t address my particular questions, which, if a reporter asks, you should. They ask because they want to know. It’s how we determine whether you qualify for what we need.
7. Let me tell you about me.
Please don’t give me background that has nothing to do with what I’m asking. A PR company — who should know better — proposed their client and then went on for two paragraphs about the real estate firm’s accomplishments where their client worked. I asked for a powerful woman doing martial arts to discuss the impact it had on her body image, personal and professional life. What does this have to do with what I’m interested in. Nothing.
Why should I care that the company “completed commercial leasing transactions totaling over 10 million square feet and valued at over $1.6 billion.” Now if the PR person had connected that in some way to the personal success of his client’s training in martial arts he would have gotten my interest.
8. Read this.
Some people told me that they were experts and then referred me to other people’s articles. While this was helpful overall, it wasn’t helpful in terms of me evaluating them to see if they would be the right expert for my story. I asked for research and studies, but I wanted to talk to the people who had done them. Why would I use a secondary source if I could go to the original one? Plus, if you’re going to send me to a link I need to know why. Tell me the topic of the story and why it would interest me. Better yet, tell me how that article or research is connected to you and what you do.
9. Hi, I’m famous.
A few famous people (what, they don’t have to play by the rules?) had their assistant or PR person contact me saying that they were available to be interviewed. They didn’t explain why their boss/client was an expert but gave me a link to an article or two that they had written.
I don’t want to have to plow through tons of material to see if this expert is right for me. YOU need to convince ME that I should talk to you. Just because you’re famous doesn’t get you off the hook for showing me that you’re the expert I need. Because, guess what? Lots of famous experts are vying for my time who sent me just what I needed to inspire me to call them.
Besides, I’m not going to call you because you’re famous, I’m going to call you if you have the information that I need. And you don’t need to be famous to be the expert that I will use. So please follow the producer or journalist’s instructions EXACTLY and you’ll become a pleasure instead of a pain.