There’s a lot PR pros have to know to do their jobs.
Perhaps one of the most important components of the job you must stay on top of is media relations. While everyone has his or her own style of pitching, there are certain “facts” or “truths” and “myths” that come with the territory. Here are few of my favorites:
1. You must have a relationship to pitch. If you believe what you read, this is a “truth”—but it’s a myth. Based on my experience—in addition to the reporters I asked—reporters do read and use “cold” pitches. Sometimes, this can even be the start of a building a relationship with a journalist. So, if you don’t know a reporter, don’t let that keep you from pitching. However, as always, make your pitch as targeted as possible. Don’t waste their time.
2. Press releases are dead. Again, you may think is a “fact.” It’s a myth. Press releases are alive and well, and while best practices for writing them may have changed, they’re still often requested and used by journalists. Don’t forget about this valuable tool in your PR arsenal.
3. If you don’t get a response to your pitch in 24 hours, give up. I recently heard this one during a webinar I attended on pitching tips. I believe it’s a “myth.” Many times, reporters won’t respond to the first email you send. They may not even read it the day you send it. I’ve received replies days (even months!) later. Sometimes, reporters file your pitch for later use and may not respond to it at all when they first read it. Or, they may need a follow-up email, if they didn’t see the first one. After all, some do receive hundreds of email pitches each week. Sending one email then giving up won’t get you the results you’re looking. Be politely persistent—which doesn’t mean be a pest.
4. Reporters like attachments. This is a myth. Many PR pros know this but a recent post from a TechCrunch editor pointed out that there are still PR pros who send attachments. Take his word for it and just don’t. There are a number of reasons, such as time, viruses, etc. Just don’t do it. Put the information in the body of an email. If the reporter wants more, she or he will ask. At that point, it might be OK to send an attachment (always ask first). A link is usually preferred, if you can send that instead.
5. Reporters hate calls. This one is true. While it can be necessary at times to call, one reporter tweeted this during a recent Twitter chat: “You should see the angry faces I make at unexpected calls!” If you’ve scheduled a call with a reporter, that’s a different story, but cold calling should be used sparingly.
6. If you miss a deadline, that’s OK. Of course, this one is a “myth.” But, there are still those PR peeps who think it’s OK. Reporters work against deadlines, so when they need something, it’s our job to drop everything and deliver. It’s important to get clients on board with this, too. There’s nothing worse than landing your client a story, then failing to deliver the goods because you were waiting on the client to provide the necessary information. Be sure to have whatever you may need—stats, data, images, customer references, etc.—lined up before you need it. That way, you can send it right over when the reporter responds to your pitch requesting more information.
These are just a few “facts” and “myths” I’ve found working in the PR biz. What are some of your favorites?