Ah, spring -- it’s here. We’ve begun to feel it in the air. It’s a rebirth of sorts, a time when things come out of hibernation and start to blossom.
Maybe it’s time for us to bring our media relations approach out of the winter doldrums, too.
Let’s take a fresh look at the way we’re doing things to see how our approach is working for us—and think about potentially incorporating some new perspectives in our work with reporters:
It’s no longer enough to quickly bap out a media pitch and shoot it over to a reporter. We need to be doing more research to understand the topic and to find data to back up our angle. Now, instead of seeing how many pitches we can send out, the focus should be on sending fewer pitches of higher quality.
In a sea of bad pitches, it’s almost guaranteed that your pitch will stand out if you take the extra time to carefully craft it. That means taking the time to review and edit it, too.
Sure, there may be times when you need to get it out fast. But, if you’re not in a time crunch, you’d be better served by slowing down and taking some extra time to write a quality pitch that a reporter might actually read—and respond to.
While we’re talking about spending more time on research and writing, let’s also take some time to get to know who we’re pitching.
Let’s agree to no more shotgun pitches. Better targeting can lead to greater success.
There are tools (like Muck Rack) that can help you do this, including social listening tools that show you what the reporters on your media list are talking about on social. This can save time by prioritizing your media list based on social sentiment, helping you identify the most influential reporters writing about a topic.
Let’s be clear: most journalists don’t mind follow up. It’s pestering they don’t care for. We know that following up five times the day after you’ve sent a pitch is too much too soon. So, what’s a more effective approach?
If you send an email, it’s OK to resend the email (wait at least a few days). Or, you might try pitching them via social media, if you know they spend time there. And, some PR pros still use the phone. As long as you use it sparingly or with reporters you already know, that can also be a good way to connect.
These include (but aren’t limited to) questions like, “Can we review the story before it’s published?” Or, “Can you publish this on X date?” Chances are, the answer is “No” -- and you’re doing more harm than good by asking.
Sure, there are exceptions -- sometimes a reporter will ask you to review quotes or other information to ensure accuracy -- but let him or her ask you, not the other around. One of the biggest misconceptions some clients seem to have is that they’ll have a chance to review the piece before publication …no, you’ll have to remind them, this isn’t advertising.
And, re: the date of publication, same answer -- we wouldn’t ask them to publish something on OUR schedule. Of course, you can pitch it so that it may be published on or around the date you’d like—and you can even mention the date the announcement will be made -- but in the end, it’s up to the publication.
If you want a guarantee of what it will say and what date it will appear, you’ll need to buy an ad.
If you’ve repeatedly pitched a journalist who never responds, why not try pitching someone new? It could be another reporter at the same media outlet or perhaps one at an outlet you never reached out to before.
The point is, sometimes we need to change things up to get what we want. Don’t get stuck in a rut. If something isn’t working, don’t be afraid to try something different.
So, dust off your media relations tactics this spring to see if you can find a way to achieve better results.
You'll find Michelle Messenger Garrett at the intersection of PR, content marketing and social media. As a public relations consultant, content creator, blogger, speaker and award-winning writer, Michelle’s articles and advice have been featured in Entrepreneur, Muck Rack, Ragan’s PR Daily, Meltwater, Spin Sucks, CIO, Upwork, Freelancers Union, SheKnows, CommProBiz and others. She was named a Top 100 PR Influencer by Onalytica. Michelle was also recently appointed to the board of Women in PR USA.
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