My boss, Lisa Cruz, had a very wise tweet a couple of weeks ago, “PR tip: If the media works and you are in PR: You work.” (http://twitter.com/
I have to admit that the reason she tweeted this was because she was covering for me when a reporter called to interview one of our clients. It was New Year’s Eve afternoon and I had taken a six-year-old to see Frog Princess when I got an e-mail from the reporter. I texted Lisa from the theater to give her the details and she said she’d take care of it for me. (Don’t I have a great boss?)
Then two weeks ago there was a late-day, multiple-injury accident and a number of injured were taken to one of our client’s hospitals. I got the first call from the reporter at 9:12 p.m. and Lisa and I finished up the media calls around 12:15 a.m.
The point is that when you commit to a job in public relations, you commit to providing around-the-clock support to the media on behalf of your clients or company. There is always someone sitting at the news desk and if something breaks after-hours, the media is going to cover it, which means you’re going to help them. (I’m not even going to get into social media, which also requires 24-hour-a-day monitoring.)
The key to making your job manageable is having a great team of backup support. We have to properly manage vacation schedules so that there are always enough “shoes” to cover anything that may come up. I know that when I take a vacation, I’m asking my colleagues to pick up anything that comes along, whatever time of day or night – and I’m more than happy to help when when one of my co-workers takes vacation. Although you may be lucky enough to take a few days off, your client should never be unavailable to the media.
It also helps to have the expectation that you’ll get calls on Saturdays and Sundays. I find that some of the best stories come when I get a call from a reporter on a Saturday afternoon who is following up on a pitch I sent during the week. Gratefully taking the call and getting interviews set up as soon as possible goes a long way in maintaining great relationships with the media.