Spring is here in full force. The birds are singing, the flowers are starting to bloom, and the thoughts of many turn to spring cleaning.
On that note, we in PR might think about “freshening up” our media relations skills. Media relations is an integral part of PR, but are your tactics helping or hurting your efforts?
There are myriad approaches to media relations. Yours can determine whether you get media coverage—or if you get no response (or maybe simply a “no”).
So, in the spirit of helping you improve your media relations skills, here are some simple “dos and don’ts” for effective media outreach:
DO provide valuable content: That includes offering customer references and visuals, as well as including numbers, such as time or money saved, in your pitch.
DON’T forget to respond promptly when a deadline is involved: I stress this to clients—media opportunities are a “drop everything” kind of situation. You can’t wait until next week to respond if the reporter has given you a deadline of noon tomorrow.
DO follow up: One contact isn’t going to cut it when it comes to reaching out to journalists. They receive hundreds of email pitches each week, so yours could easily get lost in their inbox. Follow up appropriately via email, or perhaps even social media or a phone call when warranted.
DON’T be a pest: On that note, reporters generally prefer email to phone calls, which is good to keep in mind before you pick up the phone. On the other hand, there are situations when it’s appropriate to make a call. Do avoid leaving too many phone messages, however.
DO proofread your pitch before sending: Few things will take you down faster than failing to proof (and proof again) before you send your pitch. If it’s filled with misspellings, grammatical errors, and the like, no reporter will take you seriously. (I know this seems like PR 101, but it can’t be overstated.)
DON’T forget that the media will want to know who your client’s competition is: I’ve worked with companies who believe they have no competition. Trust me, if you tell reporters this, they might laugh in your face—and they’ll lump your client in with other companies anyway, so it’s best to just map it out for them if asked.
DO be service-oriented: Offer your client as a resource for any upcoming stories that might provide a great fit. Then, provide anything they request in a timely fashion. I always look at it as if reporters are my clients, too, and I treat them that way.
DO be respectful of their time: Reporters are busy people. If you’re lucky enough to get their ear (or eye, when it’s email), try to keep it brief and get to the point. Don’t prattle on about everything under the sun.
DO thank them for their time: Always remember that the reporter’s time is valuable and thank him or her for it. If they do publish an article, it doesn’t hurt to send a note thanking them again. Share it on social media as another way to thank them.
DON’T forget that this is about relationship-building: Relationships take time. Get to know journalists, and allow them to get to know you. Providing them with valuable news and information will go a long way toward building a lasting relationship.