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Working Smarter: Four Tips for Maximizing Media Relations Efforts

When each day is con­stant­ly full of break­ing news, and cir­cum­stances around the world – both big and small – seem to always be in flux, how do you max­i­mize your media rela­tions efforts and cut through the noise? We’ve put togeth­er four ele­ments from our strate­gic approach that help us con­nect with jour­nal­ists, share our clients’ sto­ries and get results, even in this time where the media land­scape is always changing.

It’s all about the sto­ry. Rela­tion­ships are impor­tant, and the way you put a per­sua­sive pitch togeth­er can impact whether a reporter or edi­tor con­sid­ers cov­er­ing your news. But the most impor­tant part of any media rela­tions ini­tia­tive is the sto­ry you’re telling. At its core, every sto­ry needs to be time­ly, rel­e­vant and engag­ing. If what you’re tak­ing to a jour­nal­ist about meets those min­i­mum stan­dards, then you’re on your way. But that’s not all. Anoth­er key ele­ment that PR pros often for­get about is the impor­tance of find­ing the peo­ple in any sto­ry. It’s one thing to talk about an inno­v­a­tive prod­uct. But your sto­ry leaps to the next lev­el – and to the front of the line – when you tell a peo­ple-cen­tric tale.

Focus on the pitch. The pitch is the work­horse of media rela­tions. A com­pelling email can open doors of oppor­tu­ni­ty for cov­er­age, but as with any­thing, there are no guar­an­tees. Jour­nal­ists are often stretched thin, and many receive dozens or even hun­dreds of pitch­es each day. So, how do you make yours stand out? Be con­cise, yet thor­ough. A recent Muck Rack arti­cle shares stats from their State of Jour­nal­ism 2021 sur­vey, stat­ing that “91% of jour­nal­ists pre­fer to receive pitch­es that are under 200 words.” With their inbox­es full, brevi­ty is often your friend. How­ev­er, the same arti­cle encour­ages those pitch­ing to include every­thing a jour­nal­ist may need to work on a sto­ry. A fine line to walk, but when done well can achieve great results.

Of course, as with any­thing, there’s not a one-size-fits-all approach to pitch­ing. We’ve seen some indus­try trades that appre­ci­ate more lengthy pitch­es chock full of details. And, in some instances, we’ve seen suc­cess with just a cou­ple sen­tences. Hav­ing a pulse on the nuances of the indus­tries, out­lets and jour­nal­ists you’re pitch­ing is cru­cial to make sure that your pitch doesn’t end up going straight into the trash.

Tim­ing is every­thing. There are con­flict­ing thoughts among indus­try pros as it relates to the best day of the week or time of day for pitch­ing. In gen­er­al, we believe a sol­id pitch and care­ful­ly select­ed tar­get media list are much more impor­tant than exact­ly when the pitch goes out. That said, tim­ing is def­i­nite­ly a con­sid­er­a­tion. Best prac­tices we fol­low include avoid­ing pitch­ing on days with major break­ing news, dur­ing news con­fer­ences and on days with indus­try events. We also keep a pulse on what’s going on in the mar­kets we’re pitch­ing that may affect jour­nal­ists’ band­width and abil­i­ty to cov­er a sto­ry now. Fol­low-ups are also impor­tant to time. We find most jour­nal­ists are recep­tive to receiv­ing fol­low-ups, but it’s impor­tant to know when to check in and when to let things sim­mer. Typ­i­cal­ly, we wait a min­i­mum of 2–3 days, pend­ing how urgent the news is, before we send anoth­er note. If it’s press­ing news, a phone call may be need­ed, but in our expe­ri­ence, we find emails are the most pre­ferred method of reach­ing journalists.

And don’t be afraid to revis­it a sto­ry that didn’t res­onate with media a few weeks or months lat­er. It could be that the tim­ing sim­ply wasn’t right, and with a few tweaks, a pitch could work bet­ter at anoth­er time.

Keep build­ing rela­tion­ships. Anoth­er impor­tant com­po­nent of media rela­tions is devel­op­ing rela­tion­ships with jour­nal­ists. Whether that means fol­low­ing their cur­rent work, con­nect­ing on social media or mak­ing sure to deliv­er when work­ing on a sto­ry with them, becom­ing a trust­ed, go-to source pro­vides end­less oppor­tu­ni­ties. We con­tin­u­al­ly see the ben­e­fits of rela­tion­ships we’ve fos­tered – some with reporters we’ve worked with for years, and oth­ers with new­er con­tacts who are eager to stay in touch on a spe­cif­ic top­ic. While recent­ly book­ing a series of live shots for one client, we took the oppor­tu­ni­ty to pitch sto­ries from oth­er clients to the reporter. It was easy for the reporter to say yes, since we lis­tened to what they were look­ing for and pitched ful­ly formed sto­ries that fit the bill. And now, we have mul­ti­ple client wins, and con­tin­ue to show our val­ue to the jour­nal­ist. By invest­ing in gen­uine rela­tion­ships with jour­nal­ists, you’re invest­ing in your busi­ness – you nev­er know when they may be look­ing for a last-minute sto­ry or a source and think of you.

In a media land­scape that’s full of break­ing news and no short­age of sto­ries to tell, work­ing smarter can ensure your sto­ries break through the clut­ter. If you’d like to talk about how media rela­tions can help ele­vate your busi­ness, please reach out – we’d love to connect!

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