Reporters today are under pressure today to constantly produce stories. In addition to pumping out daily blog posts, longer news stories and coming up with juicy headlines that will grab readers attention, most reporters are required to have an active Twitter presence as well. On top of that, they need to make all of this happen with limited resources due to layoffs.
But why does this matter to PR professionals? It means we must tell stories in captivating and intriguing ways to capture a reporter's attention, particularly at top tier outlets. Reporters are deluged with requests for their attention – they receive between 75-100 interview requests and pitches every day, and America now has nearly five PR people for every reporter which is double from just 10 years ago. As PR pros, we need to be more genuine, intelligent and resourceful than ever before to land a media opportunity. Here’s a quick refresher on a few media relations best practices that are important to keep in mind when working with reporters:
1. Be mindful of publication deadlines: Print, online and broadcast media outlets have significantly different deadline requirements. For example, while a reporter at an online outlet may have multiple story deadlines per day, a print magazine will have a longer lead time. It's important to understand and be aware of when a reporter is working on a deadline and reach out to him or her at an optimal hour.
2. Don’t be afraid to pick up the phone: Phone pitching is a tried and true way to get fast media results. It’s important to be prepared, but it’s also okay to not have all the answers - we are expected to be the PR pro, not the PhD. Of course, if you don't have all the answers at your fingertips, you need to give assurances that you can go get them - and deliver them on deadline.
3. Keep it brief: Many, but NOT all, of the best email pitching can be done in three sentences or less. It removes the marketing jargon and breaks the news down for the reporter who, frankly, doesn’t have time or the attention span for much more than that.
4. Use Twitter to your advantage: Not only is Twitter a valuable resource for finding new contacts at publications, it's a great alternative vehicle for pitching and connecting reporters via direct message (without clogging their inboxes).
5. Build a relationship: Ask a reporter out for coffee or lunch. Getting to know them in-person, outside of the office/newsroom, humanizes the relationship. Its also a great opportunity to pick a reporter’s brain about stories they’re working on, understand more about what kind of trends or information motivates them, and also learn how they are being measured. (Check out our Journalist Corner to read interesting Q&As with several reporters.)
While there is no secret formula for mastering the art of media relations, these tips can help you get on track toward achieving success -- whether it’s landing an awesome story or building a relationship with an influential reporter.
Juli’s responsible for media outreach, drafting bylines and blog posts, executing social media campaigns, and staying ahead of industry trends. Before joining InkHouse in January 2015, Juli found her true passion for public relations during her time as a general manager of Tehama Group Communications, Chico State’s student-run PR firm. In her spare time, you can find her at Zumba class, trivia night, or exploring all that San Francisco has to offer!