Media contacts should be called approximately one week after mailing the press packet.
Goals of the initial follow up call:
- To make a quick initial introduction (make sure you quickly mention your affiliation with Soulforce and the Soulforce purpose)
- To make sure they got the packet and/or had a chance to look at it
- To make sure you have all the necessary contact information for them
- To set up a good time to call and discuss the packet and the event
Please note: Initially, the goal is not to "sell the story" but to set up a convenient time to discuss it with them, so you will have more than 30 seconds of their time. If "now" is a good time for them, then go for it.
Important points about first follow up call:
- Press people are almost always on a deadline. Please be very mindful of this. Nothing upsets a reporter more than someone who doesn’t value his or her time.
- Always make sure that as soon as you introduce yourself you ask "Are you on deadline?" They will respect you for it. If they are, quickly ask if they received the information, and ask them for a convenient time to call back.
- Despite all efforts, many reporters will not remember getting the packet for some reason. If they don’t have it, don’t question why, just say, "I will be happy to send it to you, what is the best address to mail it to, to make sure you receive it?" Also ask, "Is there anyone else you believe should be getting this information?" Then ask them to be on the look out for it and ask what a good day and/or time it would be for you to follow up.
- Be enthusiastic. Nothing catches a reporter’s attention quicker than enthusiasm, or turns them off quicker than apathy.
The appointment to talk: Now is the time to sell the story
Make sure you call at the exact time you said you would follow up. Apologize profusely if you are late, as it indicates a lack of respect for their time.
Take a few seconds to re-introduce yourself, your affiliation with Soulforce, and the Soulforce purpose, and again make sure it is still a good time, reschedule again if it isn’t.
Remember, for a story to be published, it has to be local, timely, and controversial. So localize and personalize the "pitch". Dobson is controversial, our event is controversial, and there is always an issue around Dobson that makes it timely, as well as the timeliness of the event that is upcoming.
Follow guidelines on Talking to Media at www.soulforce.org/televangelists/dobson/2005action/index.shtmlHave the three most important points you want to make, and be consistent with language.
Example of personalized talking points.
1. James Dobson and Focus on the Family are the biggest sources of untruths about LBGT individuals, couples and families, and Dobson needs to be held accountable
2. If Dobson really wanted to support families, he would be encouraging long-term committed relationships, such as I have had with my partner of 10 years.
3. Dobson is not our enemy, untruth and misinformation is, and it fuels spiritual violence and fear.
Make sure you understand the principles and steps of nonviolence: Research, Dialogue/Negotiation, and Direct Action.
Go over the information in the packet, and ask if there is anything the reporter might need to write a story.
Ask the reporter if there is any interest in going to the event in Colorado Springs.
Thank the reporter for his/her time, and indicate a willingness to be called on if the reporter needs more information. Ask if the reporter plans on running a story and when. Give the reporter your contact information again.
After the call
Send an email to Laura@soulforce.org, indicating the media outlet, the contact information, and whether or not you know when a story is likely to run.
Do it again with another reporter 🙂