As Daniel J. Boorstin once said, “some are born great, some achieve greatness, and some hire public relations officers.” It doesn’t matter if you are a PR-pro or a newbie, a big part of your job will always be to connect with media. You will learn sooner than later that the art of PR is to subtly navigate between what the client wants to see in the papers and what the journalists can swallow. Keep in mind the three golden rules below and you should foster strong and mutually beneficial relationships with key media partners and satisfy your customers’ PR goals.
- Do your research before approaching a new contact. Follow them on social, learn what they are interested in, what they recently published, find out their hobbies. All this knowledge can help you create a customized pitch and connect with the journalist on a personal level. Not sure if you are pitching the right person? Explain who you are after, what kind of story you are offering and – if the topic is compelling – you might get to the right source. The better your research, the better the result, always.
- Write a catchy yet descriptive subject line. The sad truth is that 99% of pitch emails start the same – “here’s an exciting story about YXZ company, launching a new product” and will get passed unnoticed in the crowd of similar emails. If you want your message to stand out, you need to write a “killer” line. Something that will raise the editors’ eyebrow and get them curious. On the other hand, you need to stay descriptive and keep it concise to make it clear in the first paragraph what the topic is about, why it’s important for the editor, why it’s newsworthy, etc. If you target local press, highlight in the title that the company is from their neighborhood; if you pitch a unique expert, focus on key strengths or trends in the title.
- Pitch a person, not a media outlet. If you start your pitch by saying “I’m pitching Tom Smith, a news reporter for The New York Times,” you will definitely get a higher response than simply saying “I’m sending this to the NYT.” Narrowing it down to the right person helps you target your pitch properly and allows you to create a customized intro to keep your recipient reading past the first line. Avoid sending an essay about why you love your client or their product. Editors want facts, figures and values, so give it to them. If your topic is time-sensitive, make it clear by saying “I will follow up with you in 3 days if I don’t hear back” but don’t push for an answer in 24 hours, unless it is urgent.
To sum up, don’t take it personally if your pitches don’t get picked up. It’s a wild world out there. Editors are bombarded daily with hundreds of similar stories and chances of getting into the news are slimmer and slimmer. Still, if you follow the three golden rules above, you will get your story out for sure. Just take your time and get to know the people you are trying to pitch, and the magic will happen. Good luck!
Written by: Paulina Trzcinska, PR Manager at Adduco