Let’s be clear. Media relations is more than simply submitting a press release to a publication and hoping it runs.
You have to provide journalists exactly what they need when they need it – and sometimes, proactively anticipate those needs – while being mindful of their “new normal.”
The Great Recession did no favors to the media. Newsrooms have shrunk, and yet there is an insatiable demand for news, driven by the searchability of the web and the shareability of social media. Twelve-hour days are now the norm for most journalists. And guess what? They are bombarded daily with dozens of story pitches that range from the good to the bad to the ugly. If you need proof, check out the posts made by journalists at the Twitter feed @dearpr. Ugh.
So how can your pitch stand out and result in coverage that positions your company as a thought leader? Consider these three things:
Bring actual news to journalists. How does your innovative product or service tie into a larger trend? Your short story can be a solid proof point for their feature article. Bottom line: Illustrate why your news matters to readers, viewers or listeners.
Be succinct. Journalists simply don’t have time for long blocks of email text, or rambling phone calls. Use bullets and boldface in emails, and sketch out a brief phone script to guide phone calls. Again, always be mindful of why your news matters to a media outlet’s audience.
Be persistent in follow up, but not annoying. Calling a journalist five times per day to find out if they got your pitch = very annoying. Following up in a day or two = smart. Calling back when a journalist asks you to and bringing a new nugget of insight = very smart.
There is a certain elegance to working with journalists, whether trade publication editors, newspaper reporters or television producers. They are interested in the resources and personnel you can provide — assuming it’s relevant to their audience. But you have to play the game on their terms.