Media relations can be a tricky game. Some say there’s a particular science behind it, some say it’s just dumb luck. In our combined decades of experience, we are here to tell you the real answer, once and for all: it’s a little bit of both.
There are little things we, as media relations connoisseurs, can do to make our reporter friend’s jobs a little easier. The more flexible and knowledgeable we can be about an outlet, their requirements, and their deadlines, the more likely a reporter is willing to work with you.
A reporter may not always respond, but there are a few tips to getting a hit – most of the time.
Think of your first line as a billboard
Whoever your audience is, you have to hook them from the start. These days we all have the attention span of a goldfish, so think of your subject line and first sentence as a billboard and remember you have about five seconds to hook your reader. If they aren’t intrigued after five seconds, you’ve likely lost them for good. So, don’t be boring and show them why your email is worth reading.
Creativity can get you far, but facts to back it up can almost always seal the deal. Reporters like to know that there is proof in the pudding, and that your story isn’t just that. Provide numbers, statistics, or data that is supporting your pitch. Reporters will be grateful for any factual information that will corroborate their story and beef up their article with cold hard facts. Think of it this way: anyone can create a new basketball shoe and say it’s the best on the market, but unless you’re Nike (or the Nike owned Jordan brand) and have the numbers to back it up, no will listen to what you’re saying anyway.
There’s a time for everything, unless it’s pitching
Everyone has their own ideas on when to pitch and when not to pitch. We’re here to tell you that there is no rhyme or reason as to the “best time to pitch a reporter.” On the same day we read an article trying bust the myth that tells you not to pitch on a Friday, we had a reporter tell us verbatim: “If you want me to read your pitch, don’t send it on a Friday – or Thursday for that matter.” Regardless of how you feel or what you read about Friday pitching, you can’t deny that if a reporter doesn’t see your pitch before hitting the beach for the weekend, they aren’t going to see it after it’s buried under three days of emails upon their return to the office on Monday either. Hedge your bets and pitch earlier in the week.
Someone wants to tell your story
There is an overwhelming amount of content these days, which means it can be hard to cut through the noise. But it also means, that there is an outlet writing about almost anything – golf clubs, homemade pasta, Gucci’s new shoe line – you name it. Your story has the potential to be featured in a major article, no matter what the content may be. Find the reporter who is particularly interested in that topic, and you’ve won half the battle.
Make new friends
Sometimes it’s hard to believe, but reporters are people too. They are sitting on the other side of your email, behind their desk, working hard on numerous deadlines. They have other assignments, other articles, and a life outside of work. Instead of just being a name in their inbox (or their trash), offer to take them for coffee, or set up an informal Zoom call, to introduce yourself and find out how they like to operate. It will begin a relationship and make your day to day interactions easier knowing what the reporter needs – and how they take their coffee.
At the end of the day, media relations, much like all other aspects of marketing and public relations, is about building relationships. It’s important to find ways to work together with reporters and fill in their gaps to meet the media’s needs. Telling your story in a compelling, eye catching, and impactful way will ensure your ability to attract and secure a placement in an appropriate article, no matter what your content is.