If you’re a PR professional and idealist, please stand up.
You’re not alone. Most of us PR pros are idealists, and it’s part of why we’re so good at what we do.
We add sunshine and joy to our clients’ lives through reputation building, increased awareness, tangible results and bright, shiny media coverage.
But when we try to earn media opportunities for clients, we rarely realize our ideals.
Try as we might, deadlines speed up, notice time shortens, and account needs never end. We must stay professional, keep cool and get results despite the ever-changing, less-than-ideal reality.
“By the way, we need that media coverage in an hour”
We are responsible for doing what’s best for our clients and media friends. This can be difficult when we get a short-notice request for media coverage.
In the ideal world, we’d have plenty of time to develop media relationships, work our strategies and reach out to media friends.
In reality, sometimes you just have to jump in and get results on unbelievably short notice.
It’s tough, but part of the job. You have to keep your wits about you to protect both your client and media friends while you get results.
5 tips to get last minute media coverage
While time is crucial for earning quality, targeted media coverage for clients and trust from reporters, it’s not always on our side. Sometimes we just have to jump in and start from scratch-fast.
Here are five tips to get last-minute media coverage.
1. Set expectations.
Even though you’re dealing with a less-than-ideal timeframe, it’s OK to set expectations for your team and client. In fact, it’s required.
Remind your client or team that you will do everything in your power to succeed, but this isn’t paid media, and time is very short.
Explain that even if you can’t obtain coverage because of the lack of lead-time, you can still build media relationships for the future .
2. Stay calm.
This is not the time to beg or plead with the media. You have to keep your wits about you, ensure your voice is even and friendly and pace yourself.
It’s possible to maintain control, even when it doesn’t feel like it. Ask yourself:
- Do I have media friends who cover this region, topic or industry?
- Do I have a connection at a media outlet who could refer me to someone else?
- Is there a team member who may have a contact I can reach out to?
- Could this team member reach out to his or her contact on my behalf?
This is a good opportunity for a quick pep talk: “You can do this. You will do this. You’ve already done this. You’ve been there and done that.” Or something along those lines.
Even though it may feel like it, you’re not actually climbing Mt. Everest. You’re pitching the media, and this is the moment you’ve trained for. You’ve got this!
3. Do your research. (Yes, you still have time.)
Even though your impulse may be to just look up a name and number and call, don’t do it! You could ruin a good opportunity because you freaked out and didn’t take the time to do some quick homework.
Pull a media list or do a Google search by city/industry. Then sort by news for current articles that may tie into your pitch.
You must do your research.
4. Have your facts straight, and answer the “why.”
Don’t forget that the reason you contact the media is because you have something for them to cover, regardless of time.
Know the who, what, where, when, how and why of your story. Of course, this is something you should do for all pitches, but it’s especially important when time is of the essence. You have to be able to tell a reporter why this information is relevant to her right now, and why she should cover it.
5. Immediately send follow-ups.
This is good advice in general, but it’s especially important if you catch a reporter at the last minute.
Make sure you send any follow-up materials immediately after you speak to the reporter. If you get a reply to an email, reply within seconds (after you proofread your email, of course). The faster you are, the better your chances of earning coverage.
You’re in the PR industry. Things change by the minute, and it’s your job to be flexible, think smart and move fast. It doesn’t matter if something is inconvenient, not what you planned or not on your to do list. It’s about doing what’s best for the client.
Part of that is educating the client about why you need more time for relationship building. A last-minute scramble for media coverage happens, but if you see a pattern, don’t be afraid to address the issue with your client or management team. They want the best results , so tell them why you need more lead time to earn meatier coverage.
Now go out and earn that coverage!
PR pros, I’d love to hear your thoughts on last-minute pitching. And media members, what’s your best advice for this situation? We PR pros face it often and could use help.
Kate Finley works with Arment Dietrich on media and blogger relations. She also is the CEO of Belle Communications. A version of this article originally appeared on Spin Sucks.