Before the advent and predominance of cyberspace, the Rolodex was the PR person’s secret weapon. In some circles, it still is. In others, it’s a tool for exclusion. Either way, its purpose of easy access to the right media can be complicated by constant turnover - both at PR agencies and at publications.
Before the advent and predominance of cyberspace, the Rolodex was
the PR person’s secret weapon. In some circles, it still is. In others,
it’s a tool for exclusion. Either way, its purpose of easy access to the
right media can be complicated by constant turnover - both at PR
agencies and at publications.
In many cases, the trusty Rolodex has been relegated to the rank of
efficient business card software or anointed as an entry on a Palm
Pilot. Despite modern accouterments, keeping up is not any easier. There
used to be just print and broadcast media. Now the Internet makes three
categories, but it’s still ’the media.’
Sometimes the media converge; sometimes they are separate entities.
Still, all dispense information to the public. One outlet may be more
important to a particular client in terms of readership or prestige, but
all still reach that coveted audience. So do freelance writers.
In this climate of media volatility, staff writers switch companies at
record speed, perhaps moving from a newspaper to a dot-com or from a
trade journal to a consumer magazine. PR people change agencies or jump
from agencies to corporate posts.
If each side remains in the same industry, they seem to follow one
There is a certain symbiotic relationship that transcends change. After
all, the publications are still contacted, and the PR person still reads
the publications. One way or another, their paths cross.
But what about the freelancer? When his roster of publications or the
industries he covers change, his name is zapped from the mailing list,
never to be added again. Certainly, this is often a clerical error.
Sometimes it isn’t, especially if the freelancer constantly asks for
favors or takes free trips or requests product samples without requisite
coverage to back these demands. Zapping his name from the list makes
sense. But this behavior is not standard.
Why would an agency or corporate office dispense with a productive
freelance writer? Surely the cost of mailing a press kit or faxing a
press release doesn’t represent too great an expense. An e-mail message
would be even cheaper. Besides, if the writer works for six publications
instead of one, the investment is valuable and can really pay off.
Cyberspace and gadgets have yet to rule out networking. One-on-one
contacts beget more valuable coverage than other methods. As one PR
pundit recently said, ’The press are our clients, too.’ If they are, it
pays to stay in touch. Be careful which name you remove from your
Rolodex - it might prove a costly mistake.