In digital PR, we rely heavily on the media. Working with news stations, editors, journalists, and reporters is an essential part of our job. How we work with the media—the information we give, the assets we provide, and how we respond to their questions—can make or break the coverage and links we get during each campaign.
If you can master even the basics of working with the media, you can get decent coverage for your projects. If you go above and beyond, you can even get the coverage of your dreams. And if you miss the boat on even the basics, that coverage may never come. Here are some essential tips for media relations to help you spread the word about your brand and get great links along the way.
Contact the Right Person
You should be reaching out to the contacts most relevant to your story. Building media lists will help you keep track of the reporters you want to target. If you created a report centered around personal finance, reach out to reporters that cover personal finance. Pitching someone that covers entertainment won’t get you any coverage. On top of that, you’ll probably annoy the entertainment reporter, who could easily block you or mark your email as spam, so when you do have something relevant to them, they won’t ever receive it. This could overall ruin your potential relationship with them, which is the opposite of what you want to do!
In digital PR, building and maintaining relationships is one of the main focuses of your job. Nurturing your relationships with media contacts will help you recognize what topics each contact covers, assess how and when you should pitch them, and it can make your name more recognizable and familiar to reporters.
Read the articles your media contacts are writing about and familiarize yourself with their work. Follow reporters on Twitter and engage with their posts. Doing those two simple things will help you write more targeted pitches and get your name in front of reporters outside of an email pitch. If you consistently respond to a journalist’s Twitter posts and they see your name on the platform, it will ring a bell for them when your name shows up in their inbox. This association can give you a higher chance of them opening your email.
Personalize Your Communication
In line with contacting the right person and building relationships, personalizing your communication will prove to reporters that you actually know who they are and what they cover. Journalists are often aware of when they receive an email that’s part of a massive email blast, and it’s not something they appreciate. Your email will get tossed in the trash folder pretty quickly when a reporter senses this—especially if you haven’t done your due diligence about their beat. To ensure that your message is personalized, consider addressing your contacts by name and mention an article they’ve written or a Tweet they recently shared. These two actions can communicate to reporters that you know who they are and what they cover.
Keep Your Pitches Concise
Your email pitches will tell reporters about your campaign. When you’re excited about a campaign, it can be easy to go overboard and give reporters a lot of information—sometimes, it’s too much information. No one wants to read a six-paragraph email, especially if they’re a reporter with limited time. Make sure to keep your emails as concise as possible. Cut it down to a brief introduction, a short description of your campaign, and a few short bullet points that are relevant and interesting to the person you’re pitching. Your pitches should be scannable, so anyone reading it can quickly glance over and know what it’s about. Utilize bullet points, bold important words and statistics, and keep your sentences short and sweet! Your pitches should give the most pertinent information in the shortest possible way.
Have a Media Kit
When sending email pitches, always include a link to a media kit. Your kit can contain original graphics, data, and other relevant assets reporters might use when covering your campaign.
Giving them a media kit upfront makes it easier for the reporter, as they won’t need to ask you for assets and wait for your response. Instead, they have everything they need to begin writing their story immediately, saving them time and allowing them to tell the story they want to tell.
Be Available for Interviews
Some outlets request an interview, so make sure you have someone available for such requests at any time. They should be able to respond at a moment’s notice, whether it’s for a live interview or providing quotes via email. Some reporters are looking exclusively for interviews, and if you can’t give them one, they’ll move on to someone who can.
The media is fast-paced, and everyone wants to be the first to cover a story, putting a lot of pressure on journalists and reporters to get things written quickly. Responding to them as fast as possible will help them get what they need to publish their coverage sooner. If you don’t respond promptly enough, reporters might follow another lead from someone that responds to them faster than you do. You can’t afford to wait a day, or even hours, to respond if you want to get the best coverage. You need to respond immediately.
To give yourself an extra edge, include your phone number in all of your pitches and be prepared to answer your phone at all times (don’t put it on silent!). It may be quicker for a reporter to give you a call so you can chat rather than going back and forth by email.
Make It Easy
The bottom line is to make things as easy and painless as possible for the media. We rely on them for coverage and, if we want to get it, we can’t make it difficult for them to do their jobs. Practice the tips mentioned above, and you’ll be well on your way to earn the coverage (and links!) that your project deserves.