Karen Buckoski, senior account executive at Red Shoes PR, talks about the do’s and don’ts when working with the media.
Do understand what news is – and what it is not
Our job as PR professionals is to help our clients determine what news is and what it is not. An internal event at your company might make a better story for your monthly newsletter or blog than trying to send out a media alert and get coverage. One exercise I practice is to picture the headline first, and then answer the question, “Does it appeal to the media?”
Don’t just send your pitch or news release to anyone
Determining who to pitch a story to can be just as important as the story itself. You wouldn’t want to pitch a story with no visuals to a local TV station just the same as you wouldn’t pitch a sports story to a restaurant critic. You will find more success with placing stories if you create relationships with the media and know what topics they are currently covering. I have seen some recent tweets calling out specific PR people and firms who have been pitching blindly, or in other words, not doing their research. Word travels quickly, and you never know when you could get called out online. Make sure to do your research when pitching outlets or reporters. Know what beats and stories they are covering.
Do treat the media like they are your client
One of our golden rules here at Red Shoes PR is to treat the media like they are our client. Great media relations skills go hand in hand with being a great relationship builder. Return media inquiry calls as soon as possible, get back to the media when you say you are going to and always meet their deadlines. You must be available and responsive if you want the media to come back to you time after time. You must also go above and beyond. For example, I will help the media find sources for a story even if it does not benefit a client.
Do make communications easy to access
If you are still faxing news releases and not getting any media coverage I’m not surprised. We continuously find that the media is trying to do more with less, and it is our job to make their job easier. Make news releases or any communication you send to the media as easy to navigate as possible. Put your news release in the body of the e-mail and limit attachments. Include links to company background information, social media platforms or leadership biographies if necessary. Embed videos and photos to download. This will allow for the media to opt in if they would like additional information.
Do practice a balance between patience and persistence
Just because you don’t get coverage in the first day or two after you send a release don’t get frustrated. Sometimes it takes awhile for the media to pick up on a story. I will usually send an e-mail first, then follow up with a phone call. Chances are, you will probably find yourself sending another e-mail but then a reporter will recognize your name and the topic you were pitching. Right then, your chances are improved that they will open your e-mail or consider your pitch. We often see months in between an initial pitch and something in print.
Don’t make promises you won’t keep
Have you ever pitched a story before you knew that you could follow through? It’s a horrible feeling and a big don’t in media relations. Nothing will burn a relationship faster than having to admit to a reporter that you can’t follow through. I promise you will get more returned phone calls and opened e-mails if a reporter can trust you.
These are just a few of the golden rules when practicing media relations. I would love to hear some of your ideas or what has or has not worked in the past. Please leave a comment below.