It happens all the time:

I get a press release that piques my interest. I respond with some details on how it applies to a story I plan to write and provide some follow up questions. And then I don’t hear back from the company.

Now this is a strange one. Someone is going to great lengths to compile lists of press contacts, send out press releases and generate interest. They get a message in front of my eyes. I reply with the same subject line that they sent out. It’s an area that is top of mind – their current campaign. But still I don’t get a reply.

Another aspect of this is failure to respond to originated emails. I am working on a story and need to interview several sources. I send out emails to solicit responses. About 50% don’t reply. Amazing! They are being handed free press on a plate and don’t respond.

Let’s be charitable. Maybe my email went into their spam folder. If I can look quickly over my spam each day for important emails, so can they. I increase my percentage of replies by writing “NOT SPAM” in the subject line sometimes. Companies that weren’t responding suddenly get in touch. But that tells me someone is too lazy to check their spam folder for editorial inquiries.

Suddenly, they are apologizing for the delay and how can they help me? You would think at this point, they would be desperate to help me, but it’s rarely so. Typically, my deadline is almost up. But they often say they don’t have enough time to respond. Or complain that I didn’t contact them soon enough. Sometimes, they consume time with endless questions about my article. What’s its focus (the questions I send them explain the focus), what’s the deadline (it’s always in the original email, but still they ask) and more.

After all this, I often get replies saying that they are sorry, but they can’t help me, they didn’t have enough time, people are busy, key personnel are at a trade show, and so on. It’s kind of shocking how many companies turn away opportunities to get into print.

Here are a few tips:

1 Check your spam filter once a day for possible editorial inquiries

  1. Respond rapidly to emails from writers and editors.
  2. Don’t bog things down or waste time with lots of questions. This includes READING the email fully so you don’t ask questions that are answered in the original email.
  3. Rather than ask the writer some questions about focus and so on, go check the type of stories they write and that should give you most of the data you need.
  4. If a client is unable or unwilling to respond in time, the PR should at the very least, provide the writer with something, anything. A URL, some background data, etc. Be helpful.