When a Reporter Contacts You – Return the Call or Email ASAP

You get a call or an email from a member of the media and she wants to cover your business for an upcoming story. It’s not a negative story or an investigative piece. What do you do? I’ll tell you what you don’t do – not call or email her back. Unfortunately, this happens all too often.

In addition to my consulting work, I freelance for a number of media outlets whose editors assign me articles to write on various topics: store or company executive profile pieces, marketing tips, eco-friendly ideas, you name it. I’ve even written about a cryogenics company in Canada. In each case, when I need a source or am writing about a company, I call or email and introduce myself and why I’m reaching out to them. Not always, but most of the time, this is what I hear on the other end: silence. Or, “um”.

Maybe it’s because I also handle public relations for clients that I don’t ever utter the words “um” or stay silent but it still baffles me that some people do not either understand the value of media attention or don’t want it.

Last week I was assigned an article by a trade magazine editor to write a profile piece on a shop on the east coast. She asked me what I thought of the shop so I researched it and thought it would make for a good story (she was open to my suggestions, too, but since she found this one, I thought I’d go with it). I called up the owner of the shop and told her what I was doing, told her I’d written for this magazine many times before and even have a piece in the current issue of the magazine. Response? Um.

I get it, sometimes we’re contacted at times we’re not ready or haven’t had time to process the request. So I offered to email her the details and asked for a response within the next couple of days. Guess what? No response. Sigh.

This isn’t a unique circumstance, unfortunately. Securing media coverage is not easy so it’s always exciting for me when we land something for a client. Perhaps this is why it’s so frustrating to see great, small businesses lose out on opportunities to get their business more visibility via media attention.

So, for now, I’m on the hunt for another local and independent retailer that fits my store profile criteria and I will find it because there are some really awesome shops out there to feature. It just won’t be this cute shop on the east coast because its silence is deafening.

Megy Karydes is principal of Karydes Consulting, a boutique marketing and communications firm that specializes in working with both for profit and not-for-profit organizations. This post is part of her weekly Marketing Monday tips. She often writes for national and local consumer and B2B magazines and is always on the hunt for good stories. See her latest writing work here.



  1. Hi Megan,

    Thanks for your interesting article. Having an own webshop and constanty struggling to get media coverage, I am just amazed as you are that a shop owner could not be intrested. I realize that they might not be prepared and be able to respond directly but it iseems almost unreal that they just don´t care. Makes you wonder why?? Don´t they have time, do they sell more than they can handle already, are they shy or is it just that they are unaware of the importance that media coverage has?

    I am afraid I don´t have a retail business in US, but if you are looking for a local retail or wholesale in Sweden I gladly volunteer.


    Lars Ostman
    Africa Now

    • Lars, you’re ON! If I ever have an opportunity to write for a European market, I’ll be more than happy to reach out to you. Luckily this woman finally did respond (albeit after my deadline) but she was quick enough to complete the interview so I’ll still be able to complete the interview to submit to my editor on time.

      It does puzzle me although it happens so often that it really doesn’t shock me much anymore. We live in a world when sometimes we don’t believe people’s intentions to be genuine and I wonder if that has something to do with it. I need to figure out a way to help people let their guard down!

      Hope you’re well! Thanks for taking the to read and comment!


  2. As a reporter, I totally agree that businesses (or any source) should call back at least to formally decline an offer. Unfortunately, the press has been given this bad reputation that we’re only here to do scandalous exposes that will attract readers and close businesses. Even more unfortunately, social media and electronic communication has given us the opportunity to ignore messages or never reply; often times, not hearing anything from a contact is worse than hearing a rejection.

    Last fall I worked for a city paper and really learned how to handle “rejection” from sources. I go to the University of Missouri in Columbia, one of the best and most popular journalism schools in the country, so the town is pretty used to being interviewed — in fact, there’s an old saying that everyone in Columbia has been interviewed at least once. Unfortunately, sometimes people are pretty skeptical of us, either because we’re students or because we’re simply part of the media. Something I learned pretty quickly was to never take it personally and shrug it off. Like I think you’re saying in your article, you just have to look at it as, “Hey, I’m offering you a bit of publicity, so it’s your choice whether to take it or not, and you lose just as much as I do if you take a pass on it.”

    It’s just the nature of the beast, I guess. But thank you for putting it into words and assuring us that we’re not the only ones rebuffed by potential stories, as well as using your PR power to make businesses less cynical toward journalists!

    Kate Everson
    Missouri School of Journalism

    • Thanks, Kate, for the thoughtful response! Yes, as a reporter we’re on both sides of the fence – trying to find sources for our stories and constantly getting pitched stories (and sources). If I’ve learned nothing else in this industry, it’s a small world – and you just never know who your next source will be so be kind and respectful to everyone! Good luck in J-School and please stay in touch!


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