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Timely Responses as a 2020 PR Resolution for Your Utility

image credit: ID 54533019 © Dave Bredeson |

If you’re looking for a surefire way to annoy a news outlet interested in covering your utility, be sure to act without a sense of urgency.

When I worked in public relations, every employer I had reminded me about the importance of responding right away to media requests – and doing everything in my power to help the reporters or editors get what they needed.

While this may seem like common sense, plenty of PR people fail to heed this simple rule. Don’t be one of them!

Here’s a real-life example that just happened to me.

For the past six months, the PR rep for a traveling Broadway show has pestered me about having my newspaper write an advance story about the production. On more than one occasion, I said we would write a story, but only do so in the week prior to the local performances beginning. I suppose the PR person’s naivete – no media outlet is going to write about something that far in advance – should have been a sign of potential problems.

Anyway, the show is supposed to debut locally next week, so I instructed a reporter to write an advance story. But now the PR person won’t help us get in touch with cast members because the show is “on hiatus” over the holiday season.

Yeah, I understand a lot of people are on break now, but after pushing so aggressively for so long, the PR person should have accommodated us. The person we want to speak to  for 15 minutes (a local guy) isn’t even the star of the show – probably nobody else would want to talk to him. It’s not as if we’re asking to speak to Meryl Streep for two hours on Christmas day.

If I had my druthers, we wouldn’t write about the show at all now, but I was overruled by my boss, who said we could run the story the following issue (after half the local performances are already over).

The point is that the PR person should have done everything in their power to help us. The next time the PR person pitches us on something, I’ll be more likely to cast a wary eye because she’s proven unreliable. It won’t preclude me from agreeing to cover one of her pitches, but it certainly didn’t help her win friends and influence people, to cite Dale Carnegie.

The bottom line: If you pitch the media, be sure to back up any claims or promises you make and move mountains when a reporter comes calling, even if the timing isn’t what you anticipated. Remember, that are a lot less “must cover” stories for journalists than there are “maybe cover” stories.

Andy Gotlieb's picture

Thank Andy for the Post!

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