by Melia Dayeh, Senior Account Executive, Integrated Public Relations
Many agencies take different approaches to media pitching. At AMP, we not only use our strong media connections to earn coverage for our clients, but we also recognize the importance of addressing the media's unique needs through our everyday outreach. Here are a few of our guidelines for securing media coverage.
1. Target the appropriate media contacts.
Take the time to plan ahead and research the reporters and editors you should be pitching to. It's called homework and yes, it's important in the PR industry. Read the reporters and editors' most recent news stories and learn whether or not they're the right contact for your story.
Each reporter and editor has a personal style and preference, so keep that in mind when deciding who to pitch. If you're pitching an environmental editor and your story is more appropriate for the technology section of a newspaper, then you can say 'bye-bye'? to earning a placement.
Putting time and effort into doing your homework may mean that you're not able to reach as many media contacts, but remember: Quality over quantity is essential when it comes to landing placements. It will pay off!
2. Create customized and genuine pitches.
Reporters have jobs to do and deadlines to meet. Don't waste their time by pitching generalized templates. Make sure you communicate to the reporter why your story fits his/her specific coverage and writing style. Personalize each and every pitch so you're addressing what each media contact is most interested in.
And don't forget, media is no different than the rest of us. They love compliments on their work; after all, who doesn't? If you've read a particular interesting or compelling story by a reporter, make sure to mention that when pitching to him/her. By doing so, you're letting the reporter know that: a) you actually read their work, b) you understand their style and therefore know what to pitch, and c) you are a fan and believer of their work.
Creating customized pitches means that you'll be promoting two-way communication with reporters ' not using a one-way pitch that a reporter will delete from his/her inbox.
3. Pitch in a short and concise manner.
Reporting is one of the busiest professions. Respect that notion, along with the fact that reporters generally write in a brief, factual manner ' and don't send lengthy, wordy pitches filled with jargon. Better yet, if you have facts on hand that support your story, make sure to use them in your pitch.
On that same note of brevity, don't bog down your email pitches with attachments, even if those attachments contain relevant information. Reporters receive hundreds of pitches a day and they don't need their inboxes clogged. Instead, ask the media contact if he/she would like additional information sent in the form of an attachment or use a link with information instead. Trust me; your media contacts will appreciate your thoughtfulness.
4. Take the time to develop relationships with media beforehand.
Don't make the mistake of only contacting reporters and editors when you need them. With social media, it's now easier than ever to directly access the media using Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and more. By building relationships with media contacts ahead of time, they're more likely to listen when you pitch.
Friend and follow three reporters to start off and see what it's like. Reporters are working under a lot of pressure and great time constraints so if you can offer a hand, friendly yet useful conversation, or better yet ' a great story ' you'll develop a relationship in no time.
5. Ensure your pitch is newsworthy.
In today's cutthroat world, it's essential that your pitch is newsworthy for placement. The last thing you want a reporter to think when they read your pitch is, 'So what?'?
Here are some elements of newsworthiness to use as guidance:
- Timeliness ' Make sure your story covers a new or current topic.
- Significance ' The more people affected by your story's topic, the better chances it will earn placement.
- Proximity ' Ensure your story is relevant not only to the geographical region of where you are pitching, but also the cultural undertones of the region.
- Prominence ' Famous people get more attention because they're famous. Plain and simple.
- Uniqueness ' Is your product the only one on the market that can do something in particular? If so, you have a better chance of earning placement.
- Human interest ' Stories that appeal to emotion tend to earn more placement. Readers like a story that pulls at their heart strings.
After earning media placement, it is important to follow up with the media contacts and thank them for their time. Remember, this is not a 'one-and-done'? industry. Media relations is an ongoing effort.