Journalists’ wish list: What PR pros can do better

Survey results show that members of the news media would like their public relations counterparts to step up their game in specific areas. Here’s what you should know.

A PR contact can be a journalist’s greatest asset—or an unhelpful voice that’s quickly silenced.

The difference is not in the goals you set. After all, you need journalists, and they need you, but it’s all about how you execute said goals.

Here are four things that journalists wish every public relations professional would do:

1. Target pitches from a place of service.

Mynewsdesk recently surveyed thousands of journalists to find out why they often have a negative view of brand storytelling, and what PR contacts can do to improve their relationship with reporters.

journalists say they get turned off if a PR pitch focuses on the brand’s needs instead of the writer’s, when PR professionals are “always looking to sell something” and when submitted stories lack journalistic standards required for airing or publication.

So, the first step toward making yourself an indispensable resource for your media contacts is targeting your pitches from an angle that serves them. What can you and your clients offer that a reporter needs?

2. Research the journalist and their publication.

The “spray and pray” approach to establishing media contacts just doesn’t work, and it might even hurt your credibility.

Start by researching both the journalist and the publication before sending any pitches. When your pitches are customized and localized not just to the journalist’s topic area but to the type of story they cover in that niche, it’s much easier to become a trusted asset.

You can also build credibility by joining journalists in the fight against the fake news epidemic.

3. Reach out proactively.

Don’t wait until you need to get a client in the news before you reach out to journalists. Instead, get in touch beforehand to find out how and when they prefer to be contacted and what sort of stories they typically work on, as well as to offer yourself as a resource.

Journalists often use their personal networks to find sources—so when your first impression doesn’t come with a request attached, you’re more likely to have the journalist’s ear when you need it. Even if a writer turns out not to be a good fit for your current portfolio, you’ll have made a respectful first impression on somebody who might need your help in the future.

4. Make your pitches concise and complete.

Journalists often juggle multiple stories on tight deadlines, so get straight to the point in your pitches, and make sure the press release or pitch contains everything the journalist needs to turn it into a story right away.

Offering an interview with an expert is great, but even better is pairing the interview opportunity with relevant, insightful quotes that the journalist can use right away. Add relevant tidbits that make the story more newsworthy, such as interesting biographical facts or great photos and multimedia elements, and the journalists will love you.

Kate Parker is U.K. marketing manager for Mynewsdesk, where a version of this post first appeared.

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