In the public relations field, we are often inundated by one question:
Can you get me on Oprah?
More often than not, that answer is a big fat N-O.
Media relations involves working with reporters and bloggers for the purpose of informing the public about your client’s next big piece of news. But let’s be honest, pitching to media is no easy task.
In fact, it requires PR pros to utilize all the tricks in the bag – research, writing and communications. With that in mind, Cook + Schmid has devised four easy steps to keep in mind when pitching.
- A little research goes a long way.Typically, PR pros know how to effectively target the media outlets they pitch to, but sometimes we forget to also target specific reporters. This is a mistake that you just cannot afford to make when pitching. According to Scott Van Camp of PR News, PR pros should read at least 20 articles from a given blogger or reporter, including their comments section! Here at Cook + Schmid, we launched a media blitz where we targeted mommy bloggers for Titanic: The Artifact Exhibition at the San Diego Natural History Museum. But not all mommy bloggers are created the same. We had to explore each individual blogger’s website to make sure that their blog covered similar events or activities. Our pitch list decreased considerably after determining our key bloggers and we were more successful because of that extra time spent on research.
- Get to know who you are pitching. Once you know which reporter to target, figure out how they like to be reached, what they like to write about (how we did with the mommy bloggers), what their angle is, etc. You will need to do a little cyber stalking, but as PR pros we should all be pretty proficient in that anyways! You wouldn’t just go up to someone and ask for a favor without giving a little something first, so be sure to engage with the reporter beforehand. Establish a friendly rapport and go from there! After all, public relations is about maintaining and strengthening relationships.
- Think outside the box. OK, I don’t know about you guys, but I personally get more excited over a Twitter mention than over a new email, especially when it comes from a verified account. With the plethora of social media channels out there, why not use them to their full capacity? Stop tweeting about your lunch and start talking to the media. However, make sure you know who you are pitching to and make sure they accept pitches through social media. If you don’t, not only will they be annoyed by your tweet (or Facebook message), but you can also risk losing credibility with your followers (and possibly theirs)! Even if they do accept pitches through social media, they might not bother responding, which leads me to my last pitching tip…
- Be OK with rejection. Let’s face it, folks. Your story isn’t always going to hit. That shouldn’t hold you back from pitching, though! There are several factors that affect whether your pitch is actually picked up. Not too long ago, week-long pitching efforts here at Cook + Schmid were derailed by an unexpected incident that took precedence in the news. As PR pros, we need to be understanding of these types of events and act accordingly.
For more tips on how to pitch, be sure to visit Bad Pitch Blog or Gawker’s PR Dummies blog. These two websites show you exactly what NOT to do (which is sometimes more helpful than being told what to do).