Whether you’re a young professional trying to navigate your way through agency life or a seasoned PR pro, media outreach can be a daunting experience.
I began my journey in the public relations industry in the spring of 2015. Since The Power Group was my first agency experience, I was unaware of how strategic and creative one needed to be to catch the attention of the media. Needless to say, my media outreach experiences have been a trial-and-error process.
Below are some of the most memorable tips that I have collected from my colleagues as well as through my trial-and-error experience.
“Ditch the pitch”
This is a common phrase spoken by Amy Power, president and CEO of The Power Group. This simplistic, yet impactful, statement truly captures our agency’s approach to effective media outreach.
Instead of sending out a longwinded and non-personable pitch, ask yourself, “How can my pitch meet the editorial needs of this media outlet?” Why would this particular outlet be interested in this topic? These two questions can help you craft a customized pitch that will quickly get your main points across, while demonstrating you took the time to understand the publication’s needs, and want to add value.
For those that are more adventurous and socially savvy, consider turning to different channels of communication such as reaching out to reporters or editors on Twitter. Not only does this keep your thoughts concise, it might also draw attention to other publications or writers who could be interested in connecting with you or the company you’re representing.
Provide catchy imagery or press links (from non-competing publications)
Along with personalized, shorter pitches, showcasing imagery that ties into your talking points or highlighting a company’s press links can help capture the attention of new media contacts.
Imagery could include several photos, videos, GIFs, graphs, illustrative slides or screenshots – really any visual collateral that helps tell a story about the brand and its affiliated products or services. If a particular brand is trying to reach a national audience, past local or trade press links can help further credential the company as a thought leader in their respective industry.
Follow-ups are crucial
This is a widely debated topic in the PR world, and the amount of varying opinions could leave any PR pro stumped about a tried and true best practice. At The Power Group we’ve found that follow ups truly do work – we live in a digital world where information overload is prevalent, and the media aren’t immune to it either. With that said, there is a fine line between a friendly follow up and being a pest.
When reaching out to a media outlet for the second time, create a brief pitch that reiterates your original ideas. However, don’t be afraid to add something new to your original pitch – perhaps there has been a development since you reached out, or you found an eye-catching statistic or visual that helps drive your point home.
I’m sure you are wondering next, “Should I follow up on the phone or through email?” Even though most journalists prefer email to phone pitches, a phone conversation with an editor will help you build a relationship that only verbal conversations can produce.
A recent case in point came a few weeks ago when I was assisting my colleague in reaching a regional media outlet. My colleague reached out to the editor several times through email without receiving a response. She asked me to make a quick call to said editor, since I worked with him previously on a story. Within a matter of minutes, I secured an interview for my colleague’s client, and was also able to see if the editor needed additional sources for any of his upcoming stories.
Brainstorming with your account team or agency is another way to develop story angles and contributed content ideas. Nevertheless, a recent article from The Washington Post stated that collaborating in a group tends to generate fewer ideas when compared to brainstorming individually.
Don’t get me wrong – the Power team loves a productive brainstorm session, but sometimes some of our best ideas are created when we group together to hear about the brainstorm topic, discuss together for 10 minutes or so, then are asked to think independently and submit our ideas within a certain timeframe. Try giving both tactics a shot to see what works best.
Go big or go home
My final piece of advice would be to target your brand or clients’ “dream” publication. Whether it is Fortune of The New York Times, you never know if the publication will bite! As long as you have created an intentional, personalized pitch and are reaching out to the right person, anything is possible. You never know what an editor or reporter needs for their next big story.
Along with these best practices, I encourage all public relations practitioners to constantly absorb articles or books that can further their career as a publicist. Media outreach is not for the faint of heart, and PR professionals need to be willing to accept rejection. Hopefully, however, these media relations tips will land your brand or client their next big win.