Bottom line: Don’t send multiple email attachments to reporters. Use shared folders instead.

WHOA! 

You weren’t really going to just email a reporter and attach a dozen 
documents to that email, were you? 

Seventeen long years ago when I first started talking to reporters and working in public relations, there was a mindset that we really shouldn’t be sending attachments to reporters, especially if they hadn’t already requested them in advance. 

Now, in the past 17 years, obviously technology and email etiquette has come a long way. 

But I would highly recommend that if you are going to be sending multiple documents electronically to reporters, that you do not attach them to an email. 

Instead, use a file sharing service like Dropbox or Box or Google Drive or OneDrive or whatever other service you might prefer to share documents with reporters. 

If you’ve got one document that a reporter asked you to send and it’s a 
small PDF, then go ahead and email that reporter. It’s not a big deal. 

But when we’re talking about larger sets of documents, I think the shared folder method is the best way to go. 

There are a number of reasons why it’s the best method. 

First, you don’t have to worry about your email being quarantined or intercepted by the recipient’s spam filter. That’s known to happen. 

Second, you don’t have to worry about the size of the files or the 
number of files that you’re sending. 

There have been times where I’ve sent reporters videos associated with a lawsuit, and obviously it’s not a good idea to be sending a high-res video that’s five minutes long and probably takes up about 2 GB worth of space via email. Most email programs won’t let you do it. 

Using the shared folder method, you can upload large amounts of documents and documents that take up a lot of space without worrying about clogging up the email or getting bounced back as long as you have the required quota for storage through your file-sharing service. 

Third, you can sometimes track who’s clicking the link and who’s downloading files. That could be helpful to verify if a particular reporter has interest in your email or has gotten a chance to review your materials. 

Fourth, if you need to update a document or send a new document, you could do so by using the folder system and not necessarily emailing someone each time.

An example of this is when you might be on trial and you want to send trial transcripts to the media after each day of trial. Well, just upload them to the folder.

Finally, what’s nice about using shared folders is that you can reshare a folder with other people. Instead of emailing one reporter 15 documents and then emailing someone else 15 documents, you can just send them the same link directing them to the same folder, and you’re good to go.

Here’s an additional tip when it comes to these shared folders: I like to use custom URLs. 

I’ll usually use Box as my shared folder service of choice. But Box generates shareable links with numbers and the letters in the URL. To make the link look nicer, I’ll take that link to Bit.ly and I’ll make a custom URL. 

So for example, if I’m dealing with the Smith v. Doe case, I’ll just do a custom URL: bit.ly/Smith_v_Doe. 

I like it. It looks cleaner. I think it looks more professional. It’s not necessary but I would recommend it. 

Now’s a good time for me to give you a couple of caveats here. 

One, if you’re dealing in highly sensitive documents such as leaked documents or classified documents, you’ll have to think more about how you’re going to get that information to a reporter. A reporter might have a preferred secure method for transmitting and receiving those kinds of documents. 

Second, I’m not going to get into how sharing documents via shared folders could bring up the same kind of defamation concerns that arise when you as an attorney might send a copy of a complaint you signed to a reporter. I’m not going to get into that here but I do want to raise that issue for you.

When I’m sending documents to reporters electronically, I prefer to use shared folders instead of emailing the documents as attachments. I find this method to be more effective and more efficient than the standard email attachment route.

Bottom line: Don’t send multiple email attachments to reporters. Use shared folders instead.

Wayne Pollock is the founder and managing attorney of Copo Strategies in Philadelphia, a national legal services and communications firm. Attorneys and law firms enlist Copo Strategies to engage the media and the public regarding their clients’ cases (to help resolve those cases favorably), and to engage the media, referral sources and prospective clients regarding their firms (to help bring new client matters in the door). Contact him at waynepollock@copostrategies.com or 215–454–2180.