Over the past several years I’ve attended seminars, webinars and conferences about advanced media relations. You’d think after the first one—and the several that followed—I would have figured it out: Advanced media relations is a myth.
Instead, I kept attending events hoping to find the magic key to make media relations easier. I didn’t.
To save you the time, cash and hand-to-forehead moments, master these four basic elements of media relations:
1. Research the media you want to pitch.
You can’t just build a media list from a database. You have to qualify it. Research each media outlet and reporter to ensure you have someone who will be interested in your pitch.
2. Pitch on target.
Never send the same pitch, worded the same way, with the same information to more than one reporter. Take time to research each reporter and the type of stories she writes. Customize the email or phone pitch to tell her why her readers—or listeners or viewers—would want this story and how you can help.
3. Be polite and professional.
This seems obvious, but I’m always amazed to hear about supposedly experienced PR pros who act like idiots when they pitch journalists.
Reach out to the journalist through the channel he prefers—email, phone, DM or whatever he told you when you created your media list. If you call the reporter, ask if you caught him at a good time. If he doesn’t answer, don’t leave multiple voicemails or send four emails in a row. Value his time. In emails, be brief and consider using bullet points instead of paragraphs. If you’re on the phone, get to the point in less than one minute.
If a reporter rejects the story, thank him and offer to be a resource in the future. If he tells you he doesn’t cover that industry, apologize and remove him from future pitch lists.
It’s hard to believe I have to say this, but don’t ask to review his story before it publishes or airs—reporters have their own editors.
4. Follow up.
If you offered to give a reporter visuals, statistics, more information, or an interview, follow up and deliver it exactly as you promised. If you said you would call back tomorrow, call back. If you said you would email a confirmation, do so. Reporters tend to remember the reliable PR pro who delivered as she promised.
Every advanced media relations session I attended was really just a thinly-veiled review of these four elements. Before you attend a promising “advanced media relations” seminar, save your time and money, and re-read this post.
JR Schmitt is the founder of CloudSpark. A version of this article originally ran on PR Breakfast Club.