5 ways to help your pitch in the new era of the news media
October 29, 2012 2 Comments
We all know the media has changed significantly in the last five years. Newsrooms are smaller, and journalists are doing more with less and are busier than ever. And that means public relations professionals have to do more in order to grab the attention of journalists to get their stories told.
So when I had the privilege to hear from four local journalists about what it takes to get coverage in the new face of the news media I was ready to take copious notes.
But the thing is, even though everything is different in news, nothing is different. They still have to report the news; and they still have to search for interesting stories all of the time.
The same goes for PR. We still need to tell great stories; we still need to be helpful; we still need to make it easy for journalists and develop relationships with them.
Everything we have been doing to tell the stories of our clients still remains true. But journalists need more help from PR pros. Their emails are filling at astronomical rates, their phones are ringing off the hook, and online and social media have changed their jobs like never before.
To get coverage in this new age of the media there are some additional things PR pros should be doing to increase the chances of getting coverage from the media.
Grab attention through the subject line
This is the first introduction to your pitch a reporter sees. General subject lines are hurting public relations. You have to make the subject line stand out from the flood of email coming into journalists’ inboxes. They don’t have to be the most important part of the story, just the most interesting. NEVER use the words “press release” in a subject line. It’s the quickest way to get your email deleted.
Find another reporter to pitch
If your story isn’t going to make it on air or into print editions, try a multimedia journalist. They’re not limited to column inches or 30-second stories and have different audiences. The most popular story on a news website, isn’t necessarily going to be the front page story.
Make it easy
Journalists do not have time to read your long-winded, jargon-filled press release with a page-long summary of the company and its forward-looking statement. They’re probably just going to delete it. Instead, make it short and sweet with easy-to-digest bullet points. Even better, craft an interesting and short pitch that links to press releases, images, audio and video that reporters can open to get more information.
Tailor your pitch to each journalist
Reporters despise mass pitches that start “Dear media.” It is evidence your pitch went to 1,000 different journalists and shows a lack of effort to learn about what the journalists really are interested in writing about. Instead, tailor your pitch to the reporter you want to reach and learn how they really want to receive your pitch. It takes more effort, but will pay off in the long run.
Remember to follow up
If your personalized pitch doesn’t get the immediate interest you had hoped, follow up. It is quite possible the pitch was buried between other messages, or the reporter was on deadline. A phone call the next day can be a helpful reminder to get your pitch in front of the eyes of busy reporters.
Pitches from PR are one of the top ways reporters get their ideas for stories. They want to get great stories and we have a lot of great stories to tell.
What are your thoughts? Are there any additional tips PR pros should adhere to increase their chances of landing a story in this new era of the news media?