Once you’ve broken out of the university cocoon and landed a gig in PR you’ll learn that media relations is a skill best learnt through experience. Journalists are busy people, but armed with the right knowledge and a little gusto, you’ll be able to grab the attention of even the busiest of journalists.
On the surface what we do as PR pros seems simple; we get people to talk. We share stories, start conversations and link interesting people with the right audiences. We build reputations and sometimes even save them in times of crisis.
But, securing that all important media coverage isn’t always easy. Crafting the perfect pitch and having all materials at the ready is just the beginning. The real fun starts once you’re ready to pitch your story to the world.
1. Time your pitch
Spend time getting to know the publication you’re sending your pitch to. Understand their schedule and deadlines. Before you pick up the phone or send out emails, find out what’s the best time to contact them. For example, some local publications may need media releases by Wednesday for the story to run in the following week’s paper.
2. Make your pitch punchy
Keep it short and sweet. Communicate the story idea, why it’s relevant to their audience and what opportunities are available. Any further information or images can be sent as attachments in an email.
3. Be an expert
Be prepared for their questions. Sure, you know all about the client’s business but do you understand the industry media that you’re pitching to? Spend some time watching, reading or listening to stories from the media outlets you’re contacting so you can justify why your story is of interest to their audience.
4. Be prepared
Keeping dot points handy is a great way to make sure you don’t leave out any vital bits of information when making calls. Initially, you’ll only have a couple of minutes to grab their attention so have key statistics, research or any other relevant information at the ready.
5. Know the journo’
This is by far the most important. Give the right journalist what they want, when and how they want it and you’ll land that story. Find out as much as you can about what stories they cover, what they eat for breakfast (kidding) and the kinds of materials that might peak their interest. Better yet, refer to an article they’ve previously written and offer a unique perspective that they can build on.