One of my favorite parts about New Year’s Day—apart from college football—is to see how my resolutions change every year. Ever since I started writing down and saving my resolutions, I’ve found that some of them stay there year after year (“call your old friends more often” and “get more sleep” seem to hold on to their spots with tenacity). But most of them change, and looking at those changes is an interesting way of viewing the ways your life shifts.
For example, here’s one of mine from last year: “Update and pare down your list of publicity contacts.” My position in life has changed somewhat since I wrote that. At this time last year, I was working as a freelance journalist and editor, something I’d been doing for years. It wasn’t until December that I joined Cookerly full time. I couldn’t be happier with my new position and my new team.
With the start of my first year in PR, I’m resolving to remember the lessons from my years as a journalist. Here’s an editor-turned-publicist’s resolutions for the new year:
1. No Spam: This one comes right out of that 2010 resolution. The reason I had to pare down my publicity contacts was because I was receiving 35-50 press releases a day. As an editor, the most important thing to me in a PR contact was how relevant their pitches were. For the publicists who regularly sent me appropriate material, I read each and every pitch sent my way. For the ones who harassed me with every release they wrote, not so much. For example, when I was working on a publication targeted specifically for men, one persistent publicist insisted on hitting me with regular releases for Amish romance novels. Her email currently heads straight to my spam folder.
2. Make It Easy: One of the other things that separate the PR pros from the amateurs was how easy they made it to use their stories. Journalists are busy people. They like it when the publicist knows what they’re going to need for the story and provides it. I know I did. Give me a well-written release with a good headline, compelling quotes and easy access to a quality source, and you had a lot better odds that I would run your story.
3. Follow Up: Most reporters and editors I knew did not have clean desks. They were overloaded and juggling ten different balls at a time. It’s easy for them to lose track of your story. I was pretty good at staying on top of potential stories, but I still had things fall through cracks. Sometimes a quick follow-up call would remind me of something that slipped through. Again, if you’re pitching stuff that is relevant to the journalist, a follow-up call is considered helpful instead of nagging.