3 Ways To Help Journalists And Help Yourself In The Process – Part 1 of 2
PR success involves understanding what journalists want
1st Of 2 Parts
Anytime you seek to promote your brand through media coverage, you probably have a target audience in mind. If you’re a financial professional, that audience could be people in or near retirement. If you are a marriage counselor, it could be bickering couples.
But regardless of that ultimate audience, your first audience is always the editors, reporters, TV producers or others who receive your press release or pitch. If you don’t get their attention, everything else is irrelevant.
So, how do you do that these days, when some news agencies have cut staff, leaving the journalists who are still employed swamped with work?
Cision, a PR software and services provider, has unearthed a few clues. Cision periodically surveys journalists from 15 countries to gauge how their jobs have been changing and what folks on the PR side might do to improve their relationships with them.
After all, if you give the media what they want – focusing on their needs rather than your needs – your odds of PR success increase exponentially.
Your public relations needs are served when media needs are met
So, based on what Cision has reported, here are a few suggestions for improved media relations, along with examples of how PR professionals put these into action:
- Do your homework. Many journalists report on specific topics. That could be high school sports, health, the environment, city government, education or a host of others. You may have a wonderful idea for an article about trends in plastic surgery, but the city government reporter is unlikely to care. You waste your time and the journalist’s time when you pitch a story idea that doesn’t fall within their beat. When our PR professionals at Advantage pitch a client they compile a targeted list of journalists and publications whose readers are a match with their client’s targeted audience. As much as possible they want to filter out those less likely to write about the topic. You, on the other hand, may just be trying to get into your local newspaper or a trade publication. If so, read the publication to see if you can discover who the appropriate writer is for your topic. If that fails, give the publication a call and ask. You don’t want to take the time and effort to write a great pitch only to have journalists on the other end click “delete” the moment it arrives in their in-boxes.
- Be a trendspotter. Evergreen pitches are nice, but journalists also love it when your pitch ties into something current, so keep tabs on world events. Is Congress planning to make changes to Social Security? A financial professional could comment on the repercussions to retirees. Did a new study show that the percentage of overweight Americans has grown? A nutritionist might provide dieting tips. Scour the news to see where you and your expertise could fit in.
- Pitch at the right time. One interesting tidbit from the Cision survey involves not how to pitch to journalists, but when to pitch them. The majority (60.4 percent) chose Monday, the start of the work week before things get hectic, as the best day. As for time of day, 8 a.m. to noon looks the most promising. So, a pitch that arrives on Monday right around 10 a.m. might be the sweet spot. This doesn’t mean other days and times are bad, though. And if the pitch you wrote on Thursday is timely, you certainly aren’t going to hold off sending it until Monday. But if time is irrelevant, keep Monday mornings in mind.
With those shrinking staffs, journalists can use your assistance more than ever. If you let the right journalist know you are available to serve as a source in your area of expertise – and you even provide a story idea or two – you have a good chance of building a lasting relationship that will provide enormous value for both you and the journalist.
Both you and the journalist will benefit in the process.