We call them. Send emails. Then follow up emails. Subsequently we write requesting clips or hard-copies of the coverage they’ve kindly bestowed upon us. But the one email (or better yet handwritten note), we as PR pros should get in the habit of sending to reporters is a simple thank-you.
It all boils down to the Golden Rule, “treat others as you’d like to be treated.” Don’t you appreciate when reporters compliment your story idea? Don’t lie, you do.
John Seelmeyer, editor of the Northern Nevada Business Weekly, said that times have not changed as far as common courtesy goes. “My mother taught me that the magic words are ‘please’ and ‘thank-you’ and I think they carry as much magic today as they did when I was an ill-mannered 8 year-old at the kitchen table,” Seelmeyer said. “We all are people in this business, and basic human decency is very valuable.”
In the PR world, having a sense of urgency is like breathing; often times we feel compelled to send a thank you note accompanied by a pitch. While this is fine, it is not necessary. You have their email, you’ve just successfully worked together on a story, and chances are they will respond to you again if you were to pitch them.
Be a gracious loser, if a reporter responds with a “no” (and inevitably they will) thank them before moving on to the next. They’ve taken the time to respond to you and graciously decline, show them the same courtesy.
Many reporters have monetary parameters they must abide by regarding gifts. Some must stay within a $25 limit, others have no bounds. Journalism ethics classes have debated for years if gifts sway reporters to be more inclined to cover a story.
Truthfully, it depends on the reporter; some can be bought for a bottle of wine others wouldn’t dare go near that corked bribe. So how do we, as PR pros, stay on the ethical side of things?
Here are some gratitude guidelines for PR pros to follow:
- Only give gifts to say thank you, and mean it. If you are giving something with hopes of something in return…put it back on the shelf.
- Separate your P’s and thank-Q’s. Pitches are pitches and thank-you’s are thank-you’s, try not to combine the two.
- Know if their newspaper has monetary limits and respect them.
- Dust off those stamps and your stationary and write a personal thank-you note.
- Get in the habit of saying thank-you regardless if they’ve done the story.