Earned Media Success
Being able to successfully pitch to journalists is arguably one of the greatest skills of a public relations professional. Even with the popularity of using social media to inform your publics about news and events, we can’t forget the power and influence a qualified journalist possesses. When pitched correctly, the two actually go hand-in-hand and can lead to greater readership and a larger social media presence. What does it take to be successful? Keep reading for seven ‘to-dos’ to keep in mind as you reach out.
Seven Tips To Ensuring Editorial Coverage
1. Get to the Point
This isn’t the time to give the company’s entire background. The best pitches should only be a paragraph or two. What does the journalist need to know about your news? What makes it more newsworthy than anything else they may be contacted about?
A first-rate pitch will sell the story in the first sentence. Click To Tweet
2. Tailor Your Pitch
While it does take more time to craft a pitch addressed to each journalist, the effort pays off. Reporters receive multiple story ideas each day; as such a blanket email will be noticed right off and is likely to be ignored. However, if your pitch reflects that you’ve done some research on the individual, what he or she covers, and why your story is a good fit, it’s more likely they will respond.
When pitching to several journalists at the same newspaper, consider the different angles from which they will be viewing the story. For example, a new gym opening in a community may appeal to both the business and lifestyle reporters. Approach the reporters individually rather than grouping them together. It pays to provide individual attention.
3. Be a Resource
While it may be the journalist’s job to write the final article, the more resources you can provide them, the more you will be appreciated. Ultimately, they are doing a favor by featuring your news so don’t make them do all the ground work. Don’t attach a bunch of links or background story in your initial pitch. Offer these supporting documents or interviews during your follow-up or after you’ve been approached. The less work they have to do, the quicker your information can be shared.
4. Use Social Media
While some reporters do pick up stories through twitter and other social media outlets, I’m talking about making these channels work for you in a different way. Follow them, engage with them, like or comment on their stories; share what they’ve written. Not only are these forms of flattery that, let’s face it — we all appreciate, but it will also help them recognize your name. When you email a pitch they’ll be able to identify with you.
5. Follow Up
We all get busy. We each have our own jobs, lives, meetings, priorities, you get the picture. While what you’re pitching may be the most important project you’re working on at the moment, it probably isn’t to the journalist with whom you shared it. Unless you remind them or tell them why it should be. Don’t be afraid to follow up your initial pitch with another email or even a phone call. You don’t need to call or write 10 times though; be respectful of their time as well.
6. Remember “No” Could be “Not Right Now”
Just because your story wasn’t picked up or they reached out and said they weren’t interested, it doesn’t mean they aren’t interested in the topic or organization. If you’ve completed your pitch professionally and respectfully, in most instances they will want to work with you in the future. Maybe the feature wasn’t as great a fit as you thought. Perhaps a bigger story hit the scene around the same time. Next time you have a newsworthy nugget to share, try again.
7. Don’t Embellish
It may seem obvious, but don’t lie. Whether it’s offering an interview that you know you can’t deliver or embellishing the facts, just don’t do it. Nothing can ruin a mutually beneficial relationship with the media faster than being dishonest. Give it to them straight.
Simply put, treat a pitch with the same respect you conduct your other business. Over time, the thoughtfulness you use when sending will help you stand out. Have another tip that’s worked for you? You pick Tip Number Eight – tell us in the comments!