PERSONALIZATION is a Key Tactic for Public Relations

How personal notes pay-off, plus a few valuable tips for your next PR pitch.

Let’s take a ride down memory lane for a moment, shall we?

Now, think back to the birthday parties of your younger years. No, farther back—the ones we didn’t try to avoid.
After the presents were unwrapped, the cake has been eaten and the guests have left, what was one of the first things your parents pushed you to do? If you grew up in my house, the next step was to write a personal thank you note to the gift givers (even if all you got was a creepy troll-like doll when what you really wanted was a Teddy Ruxpin). Regardless of your enthusiasm (or lack thereof) for said gift, you probably ended up writing a quick note to show your appreciation.

In an age of automation and impersonalization for the sake of saving time, the small act of even a quick, personalized note goes a long way in leaving a good impression. At Johnson Direct we regularly employ this tactic in a public relations outreach, generating impressive results.

Recently, one of Johnson Direct’s clients, Badger Meter–a manufacturer and marketer of flow control products for utilities, municipalities and industrial customers worldwide— was announcing the expansion of one of their product lines. Through our research, we knew that companies similar to Badger Meter are frequently announcing product changes, additions and upgrades. These announcements are targeted at a core group of publications. Thus, we wanted to make sure the Badger Meter release stood out from the competition. It wasn’t enough to have a well-written release; we realized we needed to go a step beyond.

Often, news releases are sent out in a mass-type email to a variety of contacts and publications. Although this does tend to save time, in the long run it may not generate the type of attention it deserves. Editors are used to receiving these types of generic releases; they probably get hundreds in their inbox each month.

It was not enought to have a well-written release; we realized we needed to go a step beyond.

To make this one stand out more, we wrote a personal note that pointed out the relevance of the release to each editor. Within the note, we included why we thought the release would be of interest to their readers and in what particular section (if applicable) the release may best fit.


Within just days, placement commitments from the many of our key media contacts were confirmed.

One placement in WaterWorld, a leading industry trade publication, featured our release in its PRODUCT FOCUS section, AND gave it the coveted front cover mention. We also received thank you notes from a few other editors who even requested we keep them in the loop for future releases.

From our experience, we have found personalized notes, letters and emails have garnered favorable and more timely responses. Here are a few key ideas to keep in mind during your next PR effort:

  1. Do your research. Spend some time getting a good feel for the outlet you are contacting. Know its readers and know its editorial departments. This will let them know you have done your research and feel confident that the information you are sending them will be a value-add to their publication.
  2. Make it personal, but make it short. Just because you are personalizing a note to someone does not mean you need to write a book. The more concisely you can get your point across, the better. Hit all your main ideas, then lead them to your release.
  3. Make it easy on them. Provide your contact with all the information they will need to publish a complete story on your topic. We have found that both attaching the release and all other necessary information (e.g. photos, brief versions, etc.) in a zipped document as well as pasting the actual release below your note is helpful. This gives them multiple options as to how they get the information and also ensures they will receive the main release if for some reason they are unable to access the attachment.
  4. Keep them happy. At the end of your short, personalized note, thank them for their time then ask them how they would like to receive information from you in the future. This lets them know you will be contact them again, helping to keep the lines of communication open.

This level of personal attention requires proactive planning and diligence. It isn’t easy, and it takes time and resources. However, in the end, IT DOES PAY OFF. You don’t have to go at it alone. Your PR partners at Johnson Direct provide decades of proven media relations experience and PR prowess that makes headlines in print, on the air and online. Plan ahead. Give us a call now to help you manage, finesse, promote and build your brand image.

Katie Flehmer
Johnson Direct