By Jena Vuylsteke Williamson, PR & Social Media Senior Account Executive
March 07, 2016
As public relations professionals, we interact with the media on a daily basis. But in a crowded market, where publicists outnumber journalists 5 to 1, how do you stand out?
At S&B, we’ve gotten pretty good at it. Through research, passion and out-of-the-box thinking, we’ve earned coverage for our clients in many major media outlets, including The New York Times, Epicurious, BuzzFeed, Every Day with Rachel Ray, Business Insider, USA Today and more.
Here are our five tips to help ensure your message stays top of mind with members of the media.
1. Do Your Homework
The media landscape is always changing. Not only are there traditional journalists to think about, there are also digital media teams and social media personalities to consider when developing a media list.
This means doing your homework and researching the outlets and individuals you are targeting before you target them. Someone who wrote about a particular topic a year ago may not be writing about that now. In fact, they may have been a one-time freelancer no longer affiliated with the outlet at all.
Social media sites like LinkedIn, Twitter and Instagram are great resources for finding out a reporter’s current job title, activities and interests. Make sure before you consider reaching out that 1) they are the most relevant contact, and 2) the audience they write for would also find it interesting.
2. Think Like A Reporter
As a former journalist turned PR professional, I’ve found that knowing how to think like a reporter is a valuable skill. Once you have curated your media list, start to think about your pitch and the five W’s: Who, What, Where, When and Why. If you aren’t prepared to provide a reporter with answers to the five W’s, you shouldn’t be pitching the story.
3. Craft A Passionate Pitch
Why? Why should this particular writer be interested in your story? The fifth W is by far the most important, and your ability to articulate that in a clear and concise way is key.
As spokespeople, it is our job to be excited about the stories we are sharing. Whether you realize it or not, your level of enthusiasm is conveyed by the words you choose in your pitch. Think carefully about your message, why it is important to you, and why it should be important to the writer you’re pitching.
4. Be Conscious of Deadlines
No matter what type of outlet a journalist is creating content for, they have a deadline to adhere to. Be aware of that. When a journalist responds to a pitch one of the first questions you should ask is “What’s the deadline?” The relationship between a journalist and PR professional is mutually beneficial. The more you prove to be a timely resource, the more likely they are to turn to you for another assignment in the future.
5. Journalists Are People, Too
Media relations is the act of building a relationship. And, just like in any relationship, the more you connect, the stronger that relationship grows. After working together on a story, acknowledge your appreciation on Twitter (or another form of social media – preferably where they are most active) by thanking the journalist and sharing a link to the article. Include links to the story in a client’s blog post or highlight it on a client’s website. While journalists and PR professionals may be on different sides, they share a common goal: to tell the best story possible. Recognizing this will help set the foundation for a successful long term relationship.
Struggling to get your message covered? We’d love to help!