When it comes to media, the game is ever changing! But one thing that remains true when it comes to getting earned media coverage is building relationships!
As a journalist, I’ve worked in numerous positions and had consistent contact with PR agencies, ultimately learning the do’s and dont’s of PR pitching! (Coming from someone on the receiving end)
Before we get into the tips, I want to say whether you’re self- representing or representing a client, you have to be in the know of the daily talkers and trends. Its the way the newsroom is wired, its all about the news of the day and if a PR pitch can play to that, you have leverage!
My girl Gina Moccio with Babe Crafted and Danielle Jackson with Spiked Media came together to discuss and share tips for how one should go about pitching the media!
KNOW YOUR AUDIENCE:
Before sending out endless emails, take a second to identify the “person” you’re talking to. For example, If you represent a client thats an expert in health and wellness, you probably wouldn’t send their latest content to a finance magazine writer. Mostly because the readers of a finance magazine aren’t looking to get fitness tips from that publication.
Knowing your audience helps you identify which outlets to pitch to. Some TV stations and digital outlets have a specific niche that they cover like hard news, lifestyle, tech, etc.
If you’re unsure about an outlets niche or what specific stories a journalist covers after reading their bio or searching their content online, its not a bad idea to call and ask! When it comes to pitching digital outlets or influencers, many of them provide media kits with all the info you would need when it comes to their audience demographics.
FOSTER RELATIONSHIPS :
I don’t really like the phrase “pitch to the press” because the landscape of news and media is changing and a lot of the content that makes it “out there” comes from social sharing or word of mouth.
Think about it, if you’re a reporter and you get a PR pitch from a rep that you’re familiar with or that you’ve done stories with in the past, you’re more inclined to (at least) open their email and see if it will fit the daily news turn you’re responsible for.
Email pitches are the norm and most journalists are (beyond swamped) with emails that they have to shuffle through. So before you hit “send all” think “connect all” and foster those relationships first, so its less transactional and more of an organic interaction.
DON’T BURY THE LEAD:
We say this is news all the time, but it also works in PR. The “lead” is the subject line or the headline, its a few words that CATCH your attention the second you read it.
When crafting your PR pitch, think about your word choice and phrasing, because more often than not, a busy journalist looking for a story for the day, is quickly looking through emails and reading subject lines.
How can you make yours stand out? Think….”why should the audience care”?
If you can answer that question then you’re on the right track! Honestly that’s what a journalist is thinking when they’re researching. Who is this story for, what is this story about? is it compelling? is it visual? Do people CARE?!
BE “in the know” OF CURRENT CONVERSATIONS :
Let’s say you have a client that has a legal background and advocates for women! That person can speak to the conversation happening right now about the fight for women rights. BOOM! jack pot!
If the conversation is happening globally, there’s a strong possibility that journalists want to join the dialogue and find that local connection, local expert to feature in a web story or produced package that will air on the local news.
THE FOLLOW UP:
Journalists are normally thinking of multiple things at once and if a pitch you sent a few days back , never got a reply, don’t take it personal.
For me, as a journalist, I have a (saved stories) folder where I keep story ideas that I can refer back to later. I come across tons of great PR pitch emails and story suggestions, but if the pitch doesn’t fit my needs for my story that day, I will save it for later use.
In my opinion, a one time follow up either over the phone or through email is enough.
If you’re wanting to learn more about press release writing, here’s a great Forbes article that takes it back to basics.