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School’s in Session: The ABCs of Media Relations

Posted by Mia Damiano on Aug 24, 2020 10:00:00 AM

abcs

Sit yourself down, take a seat. With school back in session, it’s time to hit the books and brush up on media relations best practices. Struggling to land that pitch and secure media coverage? We’ve got a solution for you. Whether you’re seasoned public relations professional or new to the B2B tech space, the below tips and tricks can help you hone your pitching skills and land that top-tier story!

Do your homework. Take the time to research the reporter and publication before sending the pitch and have a communications strategy. The days of “spray and pray” pitching are behind us. In today’s media landscape, personalization is everything. You need to send the right reporter the right pitch at the right time if you have any hope of getting ink for your client. Use social media to identify what makes the reporter tick, determine the audience they’re writing for, review their recent coverage, and determine if they are truly a fit for your story. If not, don’t waste your time or theirs. It’s better to have a media list with 10-12 true targets than one with 50 contacts you’re likely to irritate with a misplaced pitch.

Keep your word. Don’t make promises you can’t keep. It might seem like a great hook to offer media outlets the CEO as a source in your pitch, but will they actually support the interview? If not, think twice before hitting send. The best PR pros are known for their credibility and reliability, and empty promises can destroy your reputation. If you set a strict embargo date, offer to share materials or propose a source for interview, above all, be sure you can follow through on your promises and keep your word. 

Tell a story. You have a very brief window to capture a reporter’s attention and marketing messaging and buzzwords aren’t going to do it. The subject line and lede are the most important assets you have at your disposal - don’t throw away the opportunity to be creative. Reporters get hundreds, if not thousands, of pitches each week including dry press releases, and your goal is to stand out from the crowd. Use a clever analogy, shocking statistic or funny anecdote to entice the reporter to read further. In the world of media relations, quality beats quantity, so the goal is to be concise, compelling and colorful rather than verbose and long-winded. When in doubt, ask yourself, “would I want to read this pitch?” If the answer is no, start over and get creative.

Know your market. Landing earned media is hard work! Know everything you can about what you’re pitching including market trends, the competition and your differentiators. Always err on the side of caution and if you’re unsure about the answer to a reporter’s question and do your due diligence rather than sharing incorrect information. In today’s digital world, there are countless resources–from media monitoring tools like MuckRack to industry thought leadership–at your disposal. Take advantage of those tools and do your homework so you can hone your industry expertise.

Nurture Relationships. Relationships are a two way street, and that holds true when it comes to media relations. Pitching should not be approached as a transactional affair, but rather a relationship building exercise. It’s important to recognize that every interaction with a reporter doesn’t need to and shouldn’t be a pitch. Finding common ground to connect with the reporter on a more personal level builds mutually beneficial relationships. Offer yourself as a resource, even if it doesn’t directly help you. Is the reporter looking for a source on artificial intelligence, but you don’t have any clients in the space? Recommend a colleague or connection and provide an introduction. This type of interaction will help you build the foundation for a strong relationship that will pay dividends for your clients.   

The key word in media relations is the “relations” part. When thinking about working with the media, it’s important to keep the relationship aspect in mind. Follow these best practices and you’ll ace your next pitch.

Looking to give your organization a much needed PR and marketing refresh? Check out Merritt Group’s recent work for inspiration and contact us today to learn more! 

Photo by Deleece Cook on Unsplash

 

Topics: Security, Healthcare, government, public relations, emerging technologies

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