Startseite Insights Blog „I sent you an email last week“: A plea for the follow-up phone call

“I sent you an email last week”: A plea for the follow-up phone call

For some it is an indispensable tool for the success of their press work, for others it is an absolute no-go: the night call.

Colleague A: “We always talk about the gatekeeper function of journalists. So we should also trust them to organize themselves and their appointments so that telephone reminders are not necessary. Journalists are actually almost always annoyed by such calls.”

Colleague B: “My press conference was a complete success, but also only because I called again the day before. Before that I had two commitments, after that it was seven.”

Who is right?

Christoph Schmale
18. April 2022

We are in agreement

How can it be that opinions on telephone follow-up with journalists are so far apart? In fact, we are unanimous here in the company that we generally don’t follow up a simple press release with a phone call. We know the work of an editorial team too well for that and know how many e-mails they receive every day. But that’s exactly why we also know that a letter or an e-mail can sometimes get lost. In other words, even the best-maintained distribution list does not protect us from an invitation to a press conference not reaching the addressee.

That’s why I think it should be legitimate to call journalists again on important topics. But I also think that such supposedly unpleasant tasks should not necessarily be delegated to interns. After all, if the journalist is going to take the time, he or she should also encounter an interlocutor who presents his or her concerns competently and credibly and, above all, can answer follow-up questions about the company or the industry.

Nobody likes it, sometimes it has to be anyway

A colleague once told me about a telephone conversation with a leading German business newspaper. When asked if he would come to the press conference, the editor replied: “You know what? Even though I already know that I won’t be there, I hereby say yes! Because then at least you will leave me alone. Because if I say I don’t know yet, you’ll call me again tomorrow, and I don’t feel like that.”

The editor’s reaction shows how popular the follow-up phone call is among editors. In a recently published survey on the question of what annoys journalists the most, making late-night calls landed in eighth place with 19%. I find the statement of a journalist in the current “pressesprecher” all the more pleasant, who admits that this tool is not taboo on the other side of the desk: “I do it myself all the time, for example when I’m chasing an interesting interview partner. I myself see it as a balancing justice: No one really likes doing it, but everyone just has to follow up sometimes.” I’m happy to agree on that.

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