Media Relations & Customer Service

If you have ever dealt with a company’s media relations department, you’ll know why I am posting this. A vast majority of companies have media relations departments that act like receptionists with communication degrees who have the sole objective to make it so you cannot contact the people you want or get the answers you need.

However, not all media relations departments or people are like that. A surprising amount of them are actually helpful, but unfortunately, helpful people in media relations don’t seem to be all too common.

Note: I have a feeling if you write for The New York Times or Fortune, you get a different response than I do. However, people should try to be nice to everyone, even if they don’t write for a major publication. I have readers who do care quite a bit about customer service and consider customer service when making buying decisions.

If you have ever called a company’s media relations department, they generally ask you two questions. What publication do you work for and what is your deadline? They are first deciding if you are even worthy of being asked the second question, and if the person deems you worthy, they then see how long they can ignore you before you start to complain. Again, not all media relations departments are like this, but quite a few are.

Tips for media relations people:

  • Be nice. Positive media coverage is a good thing for any company, despite how big the publication the article will appear in may be. Positive media coverage is a good thing, so be nice to the journalist.
  • Be prompt. Return calls and emails, do what you say you’re going to do, do it quickly, and do it accurately. Journalists (especially those on deadlines) will appreciate quick responses.
  • Listen. If a journalist asks to interview a specific person about a particular subject, keep that in mind. If they wanted a statement regarding that particular subject, they would ask. Same goes if it is the other way around. Listen to the journalist’s questions and requests and try to act accordingly.
  • Treat equal. If possible, treat all journalists equally. Chances are, the journalists at The New York Times and Fortune or the actual publication already have contacts in the company, so it is likely going to be less known journalists contacting you, so try and treat them equally and go the extra mile for all of them.
  • Get it straight. If I had a dollar for every time I had to repeat the same information to different people in the same company’s media relations department, I’d be awfully rich. Make a file for each person and have a piece of paper or something for each article they are writing. Include contact information, deadlines, article pitch, etc. and make it so everyone in the department can access it.
  • Keep them in the loop. As there are updates, be sure to tell the journalist (especially if deadlines are approaching).

These tips may seem obvious, but from my experience, quite a few people in media relations may need them. It is amazing what being nice and actually following up can do to someone or a department that has to provide service to anyone. As they say: “It’s not rocket science!”

On a somewhat related note, I’m working with a very helpful media relations person at a Fortune 100 company to secure an interview with the company’s general manager of customer service.

3 Responses to “Media Relations & Customer Service”

  1. CustomersAreAlways said:

    Aug 05, 06 at 9:36 pm

    Customer Service Tip…Bottom Line: Be Nice…

    After reading Service Untitled’s latest posts, Musicians & Customer Service and Media Relations & Customer Service, I’ve come to realize that bottom line, customer service is really all about (well, not all about, but close) simply being nice…

  2. Service Untitled » Customer Service and Journalists said:

    Aug 09, 06 at 1:49 pm

    […] Okay, I have already talked about media relations and customer service, so I’ll talk about journalists and customer service. […]

  3. CustomersAreAlways said:

    Aug 10, 06 at 7:07 pm

    Excuse Me While I Follow-Up With You…

    This is a follow-up to my post "Follow-Up With Your Customers".  Do you understand what it means to follow up with a customer?  Well, if my brief post last month didn’t clear it up for you, then I recommend reading……