The Gracious Pitbull

Aimee Yoon

Aimee Yoon

With her strategic thinking and keen media savvy, Aimee is a media relations guru and knows how to craft the angles reporters really want. Prior to co-founding Dotted Line Communications, Aimee sharpened her skills at InterActive Public Relations, a division of Porter Novelli International, Miller […]

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The Gracious Pitbull


Recently, one reporter lovingly noted that a member of the Dotted Line family was just that, a gracious pitbull. We all agreed that it’s about the best compliment a PR person can get, especially when so many in our profession are sometimes categorized as flacks or spin doctors (and no, not the 90s band). So what is a gracious pitbull, and what can you do to move from chasing your own tail to becoming a reporter’s best friend?

First, let’s talk about the art of the PR follow up call. Oh, how all of us PR people dread it when we first start working in the business – cold calling a reporter unknowingly who might be on deadline could definitely give them a bone to pick with you. So what should you do when you call a reporter? And let’s be clear, it’s still important to try to call a reporter, even in this day and age of treats like email, text, and Google Voice. Building relationships with reporters and working towards being a good source for stories is the most important part of a PR practitioner’s job. All you young pups take note – the phone is still important.

Here are some tips to remember, publicity hounds:

Call off the dogs. Be respectful and ask them if they have a few minutes to chat. They might be waiting for a call or on deadline, so use your manners and resect their time.

Park and bark. You have about 30 seconds! Practice your pitch, know your points, and deliver it with confidence. Don’t waste your time asking questions like “did you get the press release I sent you?” #BarkingUpWrongTree #GAG. Use the time to deliver info that is new and of value. Reference a recent story they wrote which is why you think they would be interested. Sell the news angle of the story. Engage them.

It’s a dog eat dog world. Don’t get discouraged if you get hung up on, yelled at, or rushed off the phone. It’s all going to happen at some point in your PR career and it is part of the game. We PR folks need thick skin. Practice, practice, practice. Practice pitching your colleagues. At one of my first agencies our agency head would make us pitch her in front of the whole company. Scary yes, but it sure was effective.

Every dog has its day. If you do hook the reporter, and they ask for more info or an interview with your client, and you need to follow up again or are waiting for a story to post – be persistent. This is where that gracious pitbull comes into play. You want that story and you really need to be a dog with a bone to get it. Just make sure you do it respectfully and gracefully; a little humor goes a long way when you are calling for the 6th or 7th time to check in :). Make a joke, find some commonality with the reporter, keep it real, let them know you are just doing your job.

The bottom line – humor, grace, respect, and tenacity do pay off. You too can become a gracious pitbull in no time. Good dog!