Media relations is the backbone of PR. Knowing how and to whom to tell your story in the media can often mean the difference between success and failure for any communication effort. We know the media because we’ve been there.
Five surefire ways to earn a reporter’s attention
Media coverage remains one of the most cost-effective ways to get your company’s name and story out to the public, and so it’s unfortunate that the only surefire rule for pitching reporters is that there is no surefire rule to pitch reporters. However, with a little foresight and expertise, you can craft a media relations strategy that will help.
Here are five ways to improve your odds of earning some attention from the media.
1. Do your homework
Check a reporter’s social media accounts and their work bio to see if they specify how they prefer to receive pitches, whether it’s email, phone, Twitter or another channel. If they’re on Twitter, look at their posts so you can get an idea of their interests. Maybe they aren’t on social media at all, in which case you’ll know to use the phone or email. Make sure to take note of their pet peeves if any are noted (see below).
Engaging with reporters in a meaningful way, whether in direct conversations, through email or on social media can help you build relationships and better position yourself for future coverage.
2. Be personal
Read the reporter’s recent work, and understand the types of stories they’re interested in and the audience they’re trying to reach.
Pay attention to details and avoid mass-pitching journalists.
3. Be compelling
If you don’t have a good story, don’t pretend that you do. What makes a good story? A compelling story is timely, affects a large number of people and has good quotes. A rule of thumb is to ask yourself: Why should anyone care? And why is it relevant now? Answering these questions is common practice in newsrooms and will make for a pitch or press release with much more value.
4. Be concise
Especially with a pitch, keep it brief. Reporters don’t have tons of time to wade through minutiae. Get straight to the point with the understanding you can fill in the gaps once you’ve got them hooked. Make sure your subject line or headline is descriptive and specific too.
5. Be prepared and helpful
Have contact information for key players in your story ready to go ahead of time, and provide photos and video when possible. A short video clip on a cellphone allows a news station to see how the story might play for their viewers – just make sure to hold the phone so you’re filming horizontally if you’re hoping they’ll use the clip for a broadcast piece.
Be available for follow-up emails and calls. And above all, respond quickly.
You might only let them know when to expect a full response in that first interaction, but it lets them know you’re responsive, trustworthy and a credible source they can rely on.
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