There’s a lot more to media relations than having a great story. You may know what you want to say, but if you don’t know how to say it or who to say it to, then your pitch will turn into a swing and a miss.
Like all communication tactics, media relations requires strategy. No matter how much the industry continues to evolve, these 5 fundamentals will always remain the same.
1. Keep the audience front of mind
Whether pitching about a product or person, an innovation or an accomplishment, think about the pitch from the audience’s perspective. You have to consider media outlets and the readers, listeners or viewers of those outlets as your audiences. The pitch must deliver exciting, useful information or a unique story for media outlets to share with their audiences. If the product or story doesn’t appeal to the outlet’s audience, it’s not going to appeal to the outlet.
2. Spend time reading, listening and watching
Spend the time to read, listen to and watch your targeted media outlets. Know who they talk to and how to create a pitch customized for their target audience. The time spent researching on the front-end will save you from wasting time sending pitches to the wrong outlets and contacts. Better your chances of breaking through the clutter by sending a pitch that’s spot on.
3. Pitch with a purpose
A pitch should answer two questions — why would the media have interest in this story and why is this story better than the other 500 pitches the outlet received that week? Until you can confidently answer both questions, the pitch is not ready. Before you begin crafting your pitch, ask yourself — how will/can the news or product you’re pitching affect the audience? How will they benefit? If the story has no legs, media reps will not only delete your email, but will more than likely also delete future emails you send.
4. Build, then foster, relationships
It’s all about connections and relationships. In order for media reps (writers, reporters, producers) to want to share your story, they must first like, respect and trust you. Securing and strengthening these relationships will come from pitching newsworthy stories and only newsworthy stories. If an outlet is looking for a particular story or expert that you can’t provide, but you know someone who can, let the reporter know. Not only will the reporter remember you, but the person you recommend may return the favor the next time.
5. Be realistic. Be patient.
Timing is everything. You have to consider the timing for the outlet and the reporter, but you also need to have a keen awareness of the trending news cycle. The topic du jour could help or hurt your pitch efforts. Stay the course and wait for your opportunity. Your story must stand out and be relevant to stick. Of course, if no one bites on your first attempt, that’s normal. A reporter you pitched today may call you back months later because the time is finally right.