As the Managing Editor of Fishing Tackle Retailer, I work pretty closely with a lot of manufacturers. When I contact them, it’s almost always a good thing. It means that we’re about to give them valuable exposure in our print magazine or on our website, FishingTackleRetailer.com.
When I contact them, I am not emailing or calling to collect on a past-due bill, to berate them for their latest substandard product or to give them bad personal news about some lab results.
They should be happy to hear from me. And in the spirit of teamwork and camaraderie, they should be ready to meet me halfway in my efforts to spread the word about their products or services. Unfortunately, many are not.
So, with tongue planted firmly in cheek, I offer these tips on how a manufacturer can work better with all media … not just FTR.
1. Deadline Schmedline
When a writer or editor tells you he needs your news release or photos by Friday, that really means sometime next week … or even next month. Hey, just get to it when you can. If you can’t respond by the time the editor or writer said he needed it, don’t sweat it. Those deadlines are for the other companies, not you.
And if you get back to the editor or writer and he tells you that you’re too late — that the story has gone to press or that it’s already been posted online, you should absolutely blow a gasket and read him the riot act over the phone. What was he thinking to move ahead without you? Doesn’t he know who you are?!
2. You Set the Standards, Not the Editor!
Ever hear of the AP Stylebook or The Elements of Style by Strunk and White? No? Good! They’re sort of bibles to editors and outdoor writers (the good ones, anyway). They offer standardized guidance on how texts should be written, punctuated and more. Some publishing operations even have their own stylebook. Is “crankbait” one word or two? Should you hyphenate “drop shot”?
Now that you know a little about that stuff, forget it immediately. That sort of thing is the editor’s problem, not yours. When it’s time to get your message out there, just go for it and use your own style. This is the 21st century! If you can’t spell something, just use an emoticon, right? Press releases don’t need to have good grammar or spelling or proper punctuation or any of that stuff that only serves to limit your own unique creativity.
Who died and made Strunk and White the czars of the printed word? Don’t let the grammar and style geeks take over!
And don’t even think about hiring someone to write those releases for you. That’s just throwing your money away. Just because you can’t type a sentence on the computer without getting a lot of squiggly red and blue lines under it doesn’t mean you’re not a writer. We live in the 2010s — everybody gets a trophy, and we’re all terrific at everything!
3. Any Photo Will Do
If the writer or editor requests a “high resolution” or “hi-res” photo, he means that any old photo will do. Just text him a shot from your phone. No worries. Sure the image is likely low resolution and it’ll look like crap in the magazine, but that’s on him. You have stuff to do and can’t be bothered with those sorts of details.
If the writer or editor gets back to you and says something like, “The photo you sent was too small (or too blurry or too dark or too pixilated).” Send him something else that’s just as small (or blurry or dark or pixilated). Don’t bother to check it in Photoshop or one of the many other programs that allow you to check or manipulate images.
And when you send that photo, be sure to name it using random letters and numbers. Something like “FB_IMG_4w3u5ftutsglkh42690fish.jpg” is perfect. He can see at a glance exactly what it is, where it’s from and what text it supports. Sure, the story might involve dozens of similar products and photos, but it’s his job to tell them apart.
Then, when the magazine arrives in your mailbox and you see that (1) your photo is all grainy or pixilated and looks terrible or (2) it’s misidentified or (3) they didn’t run your photo at all, be sure to give the editor a call and complain.
He loves getting those kinds of calls.