Don’t Make This Simple PR Mistake I Just Made

Ugh.

Ok. Let me explain the stupid thing that I just did. After the heart surgery, I closed down a lot of operations and parted ways with a lot of awesome people who were working with me on a bunch of stuff. It took me a while to get my head on straight (it’s still a work in progress. Dying in front of your parents and then coming back to life does that I guess.) But about a month ago I started to work on some stuff, mostly for myself, for the first time since I started getting sick in March.

I’ve been a one man operation in that time, and stuff slips through the cracks. That’s where the mistake comes in. You see, I don’t worry about the stuff a lot of people would. Like the Wonder Woman thing. It’s a real thing. I think it’s hot. But if it’s taken the wrong way, someone (probably a journalist looking for quick page views) could take it the wrong way and be like, “Hey this B.J. Mendelson guy hates women and wants to have degrading sex with them!” Well, no, that’s clearly not the case, I know that. You know that. So that’s why I joke about it, to diffuse any sort of possibility of that happening. I can’t stop it, but I also don’t worry about it because it’s a thing that I’ve been joking about online since 2011. So if such a story were to pop up somewhere, I can immediately go, “Old news. Been a running joke for three years. Thanks for joining us.”

So, that’s not the mistake. The mistake I made was that I violated my own rule for event promotions. Next week I’m speaking at Illinois State University on the 6th, and Bradley University on the 7th. I am doing something with WBEZ on the 7th, which I’m really excited about because I had a good experience with North Country Public Radio (also an NPR affiliate) last year and found that the reporters and producers at those stations know their shit and ┬álegitimately care about informing their audience. That means discussions of the Wonder Woman fetish will be zero. I’m kidding. Mostly.

But what I’m supposed to do, and what you’re supposed to do when you have an event, is make a map of all the media outlets within an hour’s distance. Two hours is too much, and sometimes an hour can be pushing it, but an hour is generally what I found to be optimal for coverage. Then you make a list of all those outlets, the reporter / producer (for TV and Radio) that would be interested in what you’re doing, and then you contact them by email. Then, the week before the event, you call them to BRIEFLY follow-up and ask if there’s any additional information you could provide them with.

You will usually hear from the reporter in that week prior to the event. Unless you did what I did just now and forget to contact the media for Normal, Illinois and Peoria, Illinois. D’oh! Guess what I’m scrambling to do as soon as I hit publish for this post?

I’m lucky in that the thing I would be promoting (Social Media Is Bullshit) is over a year-old, and so it doesn’t really matter at this point, but it’s still not a thing you want to have happen. Little mistakes, the kind you can often catch and correct like I’m going to be doing, are often the most costly.

So take note, you always want to contact the media two weeks out by email, then call and follow-up the week prior. Put it on your calendar right now before you forget. And as always, be courteous, polite, and brief in all initial discussions with the press.

P.S. Halloween is my favorite holiday for reasons mentioned in this article. It’s now two straight Halloweens without someone special who can rock a Wonder Woman costume, but I hope to change that next year. Until then, enjoy the holiday.

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