Media relations is my favorite part of public relations. It’s where we get to share our clients’ stories and I love the strategic thinking that goes into media outreach – first analyzing if a story is newsworthy and of interest to the community at large, and then connecting with and building relationships with national journalists to share those stories.
Yes, sending information over email and calling to “pitch” that information isn’t always the easiest of tasks – but the challenge is the best part! This challenge gives us the opportunity to critically look at each story we’re sending out and further strategize how to communicate why our target audience should be aware. However, to be successful, there are multiple things that must be top of mind.
When pitching your story over email …
- Be concise: Your introduction should be clear and quickly communicate the key points of the story you are presenting.
- Subject line is a game changer: Your subject line is the first opportunity you have to prove why your story is interesting and newsworthy – so make sure to be clear, but clever.
- Be personable: Prove to your contacts that you are sharing a specific story with them because it is aligned with their beat. Incorporating personalized information shows you aren’t blanket pitching a number of contacts and will help you hone in on why your angle is the best fit for them.
When pitching your story over the phone …
- Draft a call script: Never call just to see if they received the press release! Before calling, make sure you’re ready to engage in a conversation about your story idea and know everything about the information you’re sharing. I prefer using bullet points for my call script, that way I can take notes between each point of pertinent information. If the person on the other end asks you a question you can’t answer, write it down so you can follow up later with the reporter.
- Courtesy and timing: Always keep in mind that the schedule of a reporter can be extremely busy with deadlines, breaking news items, or any other timely stories. Before sharing your story it’s important to be courteous and ask the reporter “is this a good time?”
- Questions to keep in mind: What’s your spokesperson’s schedule should the reporter want to connect with them? For broadcast television, what visuals are needed? For print publications, how will the interview be conducted? Try to uncover potential questions that might be asked, or if there are specific topics the interviewee should be prepared to address.
Overall, it’s better to be over prepared when conducting media outreach. Do you have any media relations tips that I haven’t included here? Share your favorite tips on our Facebook page!