Wall Street Journal

Grateful reporter: ‘Do this more!’ What Andrew Erickson did that worked.

By Lauren Edwards

(This post originally ran on 9/20/17)

Speaking of follow-ups, here’s feedback from a grateful reporter.

“Many times, I look at an email, and make the call, no, this isn’t going to be relevant for me and move on. And when there is a follow-up, I see it’s the same information I already decided against, and move on again. Except you bubbled up a different set of data points, and that was what caught my attention, which is how you moved from no, to let me see more. I do appreciate that, so just wanted to say, do this more!”

PR pro Andrew Erickson  got this message from a reporter whose work is especially important to one of his technology clients. We aren’t saying who the client or reporter is, but Andrew was kind enough to share.

Andrew’s pitch offered survey results under embargo, but he got no reply.

Fifty hours later, Andrew wrote again.

“Wanted to check in to see if you would like to look over a copy of the full survey data before it goes live on Tuesday morning.

In addition to the highlights I already shared, the data also shows that ….”

He listed three new pieces of information and ended by saying, “I know you have a lot on your plate, but hearing back even to say ‘No, thanks’ would make my day!”

A subsequent 2,000-word article combined information from more than 12 sources, and Andrew’s client accounted for a disproportionately high percentage of the words in the article, higher than for any other source. It included an interpretive 55-word quote from the CEO, key messaging, a product description, its differentiator — plus survey data.

Andrew’s experience and the reporter’s response are a nice proof point for Suggestion No. 2 in our post last week.

Here’s an excerpt from that post. Or you can see the entire post here.

2.  Add proof points

Hold back a detail from the original pitch. You could say something like, “Does this make it more of a story for you?” Then give the detail.

Warning: The new information shouldn’t be a static fact, benefits statement or a statistic standing on its own. Instead, look for a way to present your new info such that the emphasis is on something that’s in flux, a problem or a contrast.

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Lauren Edwards is a former reporter for the Associated Press. She has been creating, customizing and delivering workshops for science and technology teams since 2000.

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