01 Dec 3 Must Dos for Media Relations Pros
1) Do Pitch ACTUAL news to the media.
Somewhere along the line, PR firms across the country have started to forget that our job is to provide actual news stories to targeted media on behalf of our clients, not the latest hype or company fluff piece. They forgot that even if there aren’t any news worthy happenings going on in their client’s business or organization that it’s their job to dig out the real news angles if they exist, or come up with tactics that allow their client the opportunity to create the news themselves and engage with their targeted media. It is not our job to put every little internal happening or company deal into a press release and mindlessly push out media alerts. Sometimes, that information is best left in a company newsletter or blog post. The fact is that if you’re pitching real news, you will get your client an enormous amount of coverage in the media as well as build credible relationships with journalists, which will go on to benefit you throughout your career. If you pitch out hype, nobody will listen, you will gain practically zero media coverage, and you will certainly not build the credible and consistent relationships with the media that are crucial to you and your organization’s future PR successes.
2) Do Pitch RELEVENT news to the media
You wouldn’t pitch a basic story about a local car company’s grand opening to a business writer at Mashable. So, why would you pitch a commodities investment story or expert source to a real estate investment writer? Regardless of the fact that both writers cover something to do with the economy and investing, the fact is that they are not the same type of writers, and they are rarely looking for the same type of stories or sources. If you do your research, you’ll be aware of technicalities that can save you valuable pitch time, help you gain significantly more coverage for your client in the media and prevent you from ever having to be called out by a blogger for mindless blast pitching. Pitching to the wrong journalist can be just as ineffective as a terrible story and in some cases can destroy your credibility or reputation as a PR professional. Knowing and understanding the writers and the topics they cover is a critical step to building lasting and meaningful relationships with the media and is just as important as having a good story. In fact, understanding the topics and being in tune with the news of your specified targeted media allows you and your client the chance to not only get a story written about you once, but continue to be used as an expert source for a specific topic, for years to come. If you’re not doing the research, you’re just selling you and your client short.
1) Do make your pitches SHORT & SWEET
I learned this lesson the hard way. Thankfully I came across a few great journalists early in my career that had the patience to sift through my densely worded pitches to find the hard hitting news and were caring enough to tell me what made my pitches so ineffective for other writers. Interestingly enough, it’s all about time. The fact is that journalists are over worked and underpaid, which means they don’t have time to dig through wordy pitches. They want to see the real news that is relevant to their coverage, informative to their audience and easy to put together so they can start on the next story. No fluff. No hype. No buzzwords. These are simply a distraction/waste of time for the writer because they can’t include these words in the story. You must make your pitches short, sweet, accurate and focused on the real news.
If you’re pitching by email, go ahead and place your headline in the subject line. If you’re afraid the writer will know you’re a PR person pitching a story then you haven’t found a good news hook. Any writer or reporter that sees a headline that interests them and pertains to their scope of work will read and possibly cover the story that comes after it. Once the writer gets inside the email, they should only find a short 2-3-sentence error free introduction of the story, why you’re contacting them, a pasted press release, and your contact information. That’s it. The sooner PR professionals realize journalists like their pitches served short, sweet and to the point, the sooner they will be on their way to creating lasting legitimate relationships with journalists and gaining consistent media coverage for their client.