By Lara Lackie, Account Director at Eskenzi PR
One of our main goals as a PR professional is to secure press coverage for our clients, but reporters are busier than ever before thanks to the never-ending news cycle.
Since the dawning of the social media age, consumers expect news in real-time, which means journalists are inundated with emails, press releases and phone calls all day, every day. With so many people vying for their attention, you need to build strong relationships with the media and make sure your pitches are on point, as well as crafting attention-grabbing email headers to make them want to even open your email in the first place!
I’ve lost count of how many pitches I’ve sent to reporters over the years, but you learn pretty darn quickly that blanket emails or non-relevant pitches won’t get you anywhere. Here are a few tips and tricks for pitching media, which will not only help secure meaningful coverage for your clients but will also help cement a great working relationship with reporters.
Research is Key
Before even thinking about drafting your pitch, it’s worth refining a media list and working out which reporters will be interested in your story. A good way to do this is by conducting some desk research using a tool such as Meltwater. You can run an influencer search using keywords, which will help you discover reporters who have written on a specific topic. You can then tailor your pitch exclusively for them.
Keep in mind the type of media outlet you’re contacting. National newspaper journalists are often up against very hard deadlines, so think carefully about how and when to reach out to them.
Speaking to a reporter on the phone gives you more leverage to be persuasive and sell in your story. However, it seems to be that more and more journalists don’t want to be called by PR folks, so find out how the reporters you’re pitching like to be contacted. Resources such as Cision will flag whether a journalist prefers emailed pitches vs. being called on the phone. Some even specify contacting them on Twitter, so you then need to contend with condensing your pitch into 240 characters or less!
Make it Personal
Never take a one-size-fits-all approach to media pitching and sending out a mass email is a big no-no. Spend time developing different angles for different reporters.
Once you’ve determined the angle for each outlet or journalist, it’s time to put the research you compiled to work to further personalise your pitch. Let them know why you’re reaching out to them specifically. This is a great time to reference works they’ve published that led you to believe they’d be interested in your story. You’ve committed time to do research — make that clear to them.
Make it Easy for Them
As previously mentioned, journalists are very busy, so you need to make sure that your story is an easy win for them. This comes back to doing your research beforehand. If you’ve narrowed down your pitching pool, consider offering your story as an exclusive to the outlet that would be the most interested in your news.
Cultivate and Maintain Your Relationships
Contacting the journalists and influencers you already know well (and that already like you) is much easier than going in cold, which is why it’s so important you get to know the reporters that make sense for your clients. If you only reach out when you want coverage, that will be obvious, and they’ll probably start to ignore you.
Remember to not hassle them! Send your pitch once and, if you think your story is strong, try them again. If they haven’t responded after two rounds of communication, they’re likely not interested and pinging them a third time is a no-no.
Feed these relationships by staying in contact, and when you do receive coverage, always post them across your social media channels, mentioning the reporter in your post.
Do the journalists you’re trying to reach take time out of the office for meetings with CEOs or other spokespeople? Possibly not. But it’s important to know and cultivate those that do.
As a PR person, you can offer to take journalists out for coffee or lunch – this will give you a great opportunity to quiz them about what they’re working on over the next few months.
A well-crafted pitch requires hard work on your end, but the resulting coverage you secure will speak volumes. By doing your homework, being thorough and taking a personalised approach, the media will appreciate your efforts.
Even if your pitches don’t always land, you’ll develop stronger media relationships that will help you secure quality media placements down the road.