A PR lead can be a powerful and direct path that leads from your business to a buzz building media "hit", whether it be a story in a magazine, mention during a television segment or a write up on a website. Unlike pitches that you write from scratch that were not requested, PR leads are a based on specific stories that are already in the works, and if you're a good fit for that story, your chances of getting in that outlet can be pretty strong, if you answer the PR lead the right way.
That's right, there is a short list of do's and don'ts when writing a PR lead response that can automatically increase your chances of getting through to the reporter who wrote the PR lead, just as there are things lots of small businesses do that lower their chances, without them even knowing it. Answering these queries can take some time, so be sure you're doing it the right way and not wasting any extra precious minutes that you could be spending on other parts of your business!
Are you answering PR leads the right way? Review this list before you answer the next one that pops into your inbox!
Have a pre-made "PR Lead Response Email Template" created that you can pull up at any moment. Sure, you can't predict what PR leads will be before they happen but whether you are an expert or a product-based biz you can create a standard response email template that includes a quick introduction to yourself and your business, a link to your website, space for plugging in information on the specific lead you're answering and even bullets where you can insert tips or product information! This little headstart can make a big difference in your responses - and make you more apt to do them in the first place because you're lowering your work load.
Answer PR leads as soon as they cross your desk. The longer you wait - even if you are the PERFECT fit for it - the lower your chances are of landing it. The reporters, writers and producers who are putting those leads out there are on deadlines and most of these stories are first come first serve. Set aside time every day to review PR leads and
Do not be a "tips tease". This is what I lovingly refer to people who answer PR leads who are asking for input, tips, advice or anecdotes and instead of giving the reporter these actual things in your response, you say "Hi I'm XXX and I do XXX and I have tips I can share about your story, let me know if you want them." or "Hi, it's XXX and I have the perfect small biz anecdotes for you about your topic, let me know if you want me to send them to you." This is "tips teasing". Yes they want them. That is why they sent out the PR lead. No they don't want to play the back and forth game trying to get them from you. When you have information to contribute to an article, send it to the person requesting it within your response. You don't have to give them all of your ideas but you should bullet out a few pieces of information so that they can see you have quality input to their story. Then you can invite them to reach out to you for more information!
When you answer a PR lead it's different than when you're pitching a person "cold" or "fresh" (my terms for writing a pitch that you create, not as a follow up to a PR lead). They're getting several responses to a PR lead - this can range from hundreds to - gasp - thousands. Imagine their inbox. They do not always have time to answer every response that comes in, whether they decide to use your response or not. This means you that sending repeated follow up emails is unnecessary. Send a killer response and let it go. Sending emails asking if they received your email is going to annoy them. Send it and forget it!
Set up Google Alerts so that you can catch mentions of yourself online that a member of the press may or may not have warned you was on its way! Heck, there have been members of Tin Shingle who have been featured on the Today Show with no heads up, it's not as uncommon as you would think! By setting Alerts (I prefer to have them alert me using the "as they happen" option) you will receive an email each time your name or your business name is mentioned anywhere, depending on your settings. This way you are much less likely to miss a moment when your PR lead response is turned into a press story should you not receive a warning!