When someone pitched me a story idea, I often asked follow-up questions. The people pitching often didn’t know the answers. I could tell they sometimes guessed at answers. Other times, they needed to ask someone else and get back to me, which took time.
Consider pitching a story to media as simply the start of a conversation. A journalist won’t always read your pitch, shout “That’s it!” and follow up with “Let’s do this!” Reporters often hear ideas and want to mold them into something slightly different. PR pros can’t expect to know all the answers to every obscure follow-up question.
I recently pitched a story that inspired several follow-up questions from several members of the media. I didn’t guess at the answers. If I guessed wrongly, the client and I would look bad and break trust if the story didn’t ultimately deliver what we promised. Before providing answers, I called the client several times. Yes, I felt like a nag. But getting the facts straight is not only the job of journalists. That’s still my job. Ensure your clients understand your business relationship will include days of constant communications.
Also, you might as well be holding up two cans attached by a string if your client doesn’t pick up the phone when you call with a quick question. Often, people in public relations pitching me stories could not reach their clients in a timely fashion. Call it the bat phone. Call it the red phone. Call it whatever you want. But you need to exchange telephone numbers that won’t allow messages to swirl in the depths of someone’s voice mail. Journalists don’t often wait around. Too many other stories are waiting for them.