A couple of weeks ago we celebrated Valentine’s Day, a day honoring relationships of all shapes and sizes. As PR practitioners we are in the business of cultivating relationship. One of the most important work relationships for us is the one we have with the media. With that in mind, we wanted to share some tips that will keep your pitches in the press and will help you become a reporter’s friend, not a frustration.
Some of the biggest slip ups can be avoided with a little research on the person you’re pitching to. This means take the time to understand what they cover and their style, and tailor your pitch to them. Look at what they have previously written to make sure the pitch is targeting the right person. For example, say you are pitching the launch of a new app and you find a publications technology reporter. At first glance, that may seem like the best person for your story. Then you take a look at their recent articles to find they have never covered the launch of a new app, however, the business reporter at that same publication routinely does profiles on entrepreneurs who recently launched mobile apps. Not only will the reporter appreciate you taking the time to do your research but also your pitch will end up in the right inbox and you can modify for their coverage specifically. You may even want to reference a recent article when appropriate. You have to be considerate of how busy today’s media is and doing your research will help you to not waste their time.
This is huge in building a lasting relationship. Journalists are people too and most have a beat or personal interest and blend their own personality into their writing. It’s okay for you to show some of your own personality, that’s what helps develop relationships. To get a leg up, be more engaged with their work. Read their articles and comment on their stories. If you have worked with someone repeatedly and see an interesting article by them, let them know. Every time you reach out doesn’t need to be on behalf of your clients. You want your name to stand out from the sea of emails in their inbox. There are hundreds of tricks that help make you more than a face in the crowd but the key in all of them is to communicate a bit of personality that makes you who you are, not just that PR rep. for Red Bull. Don’t be afraid to punch it up when it feels appropriate.
Interacting through social media
According to PR Daily, “93 percent of journalists said they appreciate it when communications pros follow them on Twitter”. Social media is a great opportunity to get your foot in the door for starting a relationship. Take the time to follow media you work with and interact with them there regularly. Be sure to keep an eye out for any social media messages where they are asking for references or story ideas. If you can be quick to respond with the right idea, this can be a great way to be seen as a resource rather than someone who always comes asking for coverage. However, the conversation doesn’t always have to be about your area of work and should never come off as a sales pitch. Something to remember; keep your social media engagements with the press informal and genuine, regardless of the topic. Nothing is more painful than when I see someone in PR abruptly turn a casual social media conversation such as “happy birthday!” into “happy birthday! Did you get my email on that story idea about my client who patches, repairs and resells old mismatched socks?”
Overall, always keep the lines of communication open because you’ll never know when they may need a story and you might have the perfect pitch. PR should be a mutually beneficial relationship and it’s a good idea to routinely ask yourself what you are bringing to the table.