Anyone who has ever worked in public relations knows it’s a career with many peaks and valleys. One day you are getting a client the media interview of their dreams; the next day they are blaming you for everything that is wrong with their business (or lack thereof).
It’s the peaks that get us through the rough times, but sometimes getting to the top is almost as tough as climbing Mt. Everest. Obtaining that much-sought-after interview rarely comes in the form of one-call-does-it-all.
Case in point, I had been pitching a reporter for months, every time my client put out a press release I would send our latest and greatest news to him. If I didn’t get the silent treatment, I got a “thanks but no thanks” or “I’m too swamped, maybe next time.” I was always pleasant and thanked him for his time. I did not tell him why he needed to write the story, nor did I demand to speak with his editor. (Believe me, there are some PR people who will do this. When I was a journalist I was on the receiving end of these kinds of folks).
I paid attention to his social media posts, commented when appropriate, read his stories and got to know him. Then one day we had more news to report. I pitched an angle I thought would fit and … got the snub again! Then something miraculous happened (cue the harps). He was working on another story that my client fit into and he asked us for an interview.
We answered all of his questions thoroughly and with more information than he asked, we brought up points he had not considered and we added value to our offerings. My client worked hard to make sure his answers were thorough and it paid off in spades.
A few days later the story came out and, not only was my client in the story, but his organization had become the story.
Why am I writing about this? Simple, I am in public relations – emphasis on the “relations.” Sure, reporters are busy and it’s often hard to get their ear. But that doesn’t mean you stop trying after one or two rejections. In this instance, persistence (but in a good way) paid off. While the whole process took several months, I wasn’t banging on his door constantly. I spent time building a relationship and getting to know the reporter. And, in the end, even the reporter said it was a good story to tell.
Sure there are clients with great stories that the media will clamor to tell, but those are more often the exception and not the rule. There is no magic bullet, public relations takes time. Relationships must be cultivated before you can reap the fruits of your labor.
Susan R. Miller is founder of Garton-Miller Media, a full-service, South Florida based public relations firm. Susan is a former journalist with more than 30 years of experience. She has two daughters, two golden retrievers and two cats, but just one guinea pig who is happy not to have to share his cage or his daily stash of veggies with anyone.
Garton-Miller Media is a full-service, South Florida-based public relations firm. Founder Susan R. Miller has 30 years of experience as a writer, journalist and PR professional.