PR professionals know the drill – you write a pitch, pull up your list of target reporters and blast it out. Maybe a few reporters will respond, but likely you won’t get much coverage. Fast, but ineffective.
So what’s the best way to achieve the consistent, high-quality media placements that clients want most? That success requires the same kind of work we put into any meaningful relationship.
In addition to ditching the mail-merge approach, here are a few tips on how to improve media relationships and score more hits for clients:
- Reporters are people, too. Journalists love getting spammed with pitches on things they’re never going to cover from people they haven’t worked with (kidding). Instead, get coffee or schedule a call with a reporter to understand their beat, stories they’re working on, what they’re likely to cover (or not) and other details around when and how they are most receptive to pitches. Address reporters as you would a colleague and use language that doesn’t make you sound like a robot.
- It’s a two-way street. You both have a job to do. Reporters need interesting, newsworthy content to feed the beast, and you need to secure coverage for your clients. If a reporter needs info unrelated to your client, help them. If you see news they might be interested in, send it, without an ask. They’ll be more likely to read your emails and cover your clients if you’re seen as a resource.
- Get to the point. Reporters get too many emails to bother reading a pitch that’s buried in a novel. Get to the point immediately (Are you interested in talking with X about Y or, we just issued a report that’d be helpful for your coverage on Z), and offer to send additional background info – they won’t hesitate to ask if they’re interested.
- Walking the line between harassment and responsiveness. The dreaded follow up. You sent a pitch and the reporter didn’t respond, so you email them again. And call. And email again. Reporters who don’t respond to an email are either too busy and missed it, or aren’t interested. If you have news or a story angle you know the reporter would cover, call them, or wait a few days and follow up. No one likes being harassed but they do appreciate a quick reminder on something they want to cover.
- Be responsive! Once you know a reporter’s deadline, make sure you meet it and if you don’t think you will, let them know why as early as possible. If a reporter responds to your pitch, reply as quickly as possible.
Have some tips of your own? Let us know!
Leave a comment below, or tweet us at @RHStrategic with the hashtag #RHetoricBlog.
RH Strategic is a Seattle and D.C.-based communications firm providing strategic public relations for innovators in the technology, public sector and healthcare markets.