It is a common belief that persons who follow the PR path must be slightly insane. How else could we thrive on the challenge and uncertainty that the media brings? Or act like we have won the lottery when a media request goes our way? Whether we are pushing out content or trying to create a conversation, as a PR Professional our goal is to establish a relationship with the media that will serve both our clients and consumers. Just like any friendship, establishing this relationship takes time and effort.
As a young PR Professional, it’s easy to see why people are confused about best pitching practices, after all there is no PR 101 class that can fully prepare you. I have heard advice like “always email in the morning,” “always email pitches in the afternoon,” or even “Don’t email pitches at all, just call.” So with all of the different opinions and advice there is about best practices, how are we supposed to know which strategy is best? Enter PR extraordinaire, Michael Smart!
I recently had the pleasure to participate in a webinar conducted by Michael Smart, national news director at Bringham Young University. In his presentation, entitled “8 Ways to Go From ‘Snooze’ to ‘News,” Smart offers up his own pitching strategy that has enabled him to snag major media placements. Taking Smart’s principles into consideration, as well as my own personal best practices, I have pulled together a list of tips for increasing the likelihood of securing a strong media placement.
1. Creating Quality, Not Quantity. Shooting your pitch to 300 contacts and praying that someone will respond with an interest is no way to live. It is important to compile a media list that consists of individuals who have shown interest in this topic in the past—not solely relying on their topic description in Cision. By taking your time and doing some research you will be able to compile a smaller yet more effective list.
2. Find Unorthodox Beats. Most clients have what may seem like a niche customer range. If you were to stay within this small market you would quickly begin to feel like you are pitching the same people over and over again. Not only is this frustrating for your media contacts, but you might be risking a relationship that you have with an editor. This is why it is important to brainstorm different markets that either use or should use your client’s services. The tricky part can be finding a way to incorporate your client’s message into an offbeat list of contacts. This is where creativity truly comes into play. It is your job to make a connection between the applicability of your client’s services and your new list of contacts. Clearly stating the reasons why you are communicating is relevant and important to their work.
3. Make it Relevant. Timing is everything! While we can’t control what new trend is the hot topic of conversation, we can always rely on the holiday seasons. To do so just make note of any upcoming holidays, even less nationally celebrated ones like “Black Friday,” or “St. Patrick’s Day” and try to incorporate your client’s services. These holidays act as open opportunities for you to frame your pitch around “real people,” and position your client as the solution to their needs.
4. Be Aware of Current Trends. One important way to draw the attention of the media to your pitch is by making it as current and up-to-date as possible. Try offering up a relevant third party source. Do some research and find a relevant trend that is taking place within your client’s industry and try to incorporate this concept into your pitch angle.
5. Don’t Be Afraid to Call. It is surprising the amount of young professionals who rely solely on email for all of their pitching efforts. PR tactics are changing, due largely to our increasing need to rely on the Internet, but this is where personal communication is lost. Of course it is important to send an email first, but if there is no response and you have done your research then don’t be afraid to pick up the phone. The worst that could happen is that they are not interested.
Now that I have shared my personal tips, let’s hear yours! Leave a comment below and share what you believe is a key principle when communicating with the media.
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