A publicist emailed me last week, asking my advice on this dilemma.
She pitched a story about her client, whose company is the local angle to a major national business story. A reporter from a big newspaper (one that most Publicity Hounds would give their right paws to get into), bit on the idea in November and asked for exclusivity.
But the reporter kept stalling and wouldn’t schedule the interview because he was either on another assignment, or the timing wasn’t right. He kept telling the publicist to be patient and that his editor was still interested.
Here we are two months later, and the client is getting antsy. He even suggested that his publicist offer the story to other major newspapers.
This one was an easy call. Here’s what I told her.
Every time the journalist has replied, his answer has been positive, and that means he and his editor are still interested. If you offer this story to somebody else, you’ll forever ruin your relationship not only with this reporter, but with the newspaper.
Tell the client it’s not unusual for the media to sit on a story for several months, or even up to a year, before they cover it. But in this case, the story idea is timely and the topic will be in the news for many months, so give the reporter several more weeks and see what happens.
Sure enough, the very day I replied to her, the reporter called to schedule an interview. If this ever happens to you and the story is timely, give the reporter an ultimatum without using the word ultimatum.
Jill Lublin, who was my guest during a teleseminar called “Failproof Ways to Follow Up” says it’s OK to give reporters an ultimatum, without actually using the word ultimatum.
Just say something like, “I have to know by the end of the week if you’re interested in this story. If not, I’ll be offering it to others.” If they aren’t interested, they’ll tell you.
This is just one of many important steps in learning how to be patient so you don’t blow a great opportunity.