Tag Archives: media relations

Five Tips for Media Relations Success

success

My last post – Relationships Don’t Matter MOST in Media Relations – sparked some spirited conversations last week. Most people who commented agreed. A few disagreed. One asked if I would share more about what I believe DOES matter most in media relations.

Here’s my take on that. It’s based on what has helped me hit media relations home runs so far in my career. These are the tips I’ve used to land a couple thousand great stories for my clients in places like Good Morning America, People magazine, The New York Times and The Today Show.

T-1. The Silver Platter – This is one of the two most important ingredients in media relations success. It involves going beyond developing a great story angle to pull together everything a reporter would need to tell the story. Dig up stats and trends to support your angle. Find a third-party expert willing to be interviewed on the topic and offer them up as part of the pitch. Make it hard for the reporter to say “no thanks.” Serve the story up on a silver platter.

T-1. Relevancy – Relevancy is the second of the two most important ingredients. The perfect pitch doesn’t matter to the wrong reporter. Don’t trust Cision or Vocus blindly. Before calling a reporter, look at the last five stories she’s written. What does she cover? Is your story relevant to her? Is it relevant to her readers?

3. Relationships – Relationships are very important. You build them by delivering on the first two tips above. Relationships get you returned phone calls, opened e-mails, incoming calls when a source is needed and, sometimes, allow you to mitigate or lessen potentially negative news. (Hey, I didn’t say relationships DON’T matter. I said they don’t matter MOST.)

4. Resourcefulness – Your ability to come through in the clutch will save stories from getting scrapped. I once worked with Good Morning America on a story that took a span of two months to pull off. It almost fell through three different times, but I kept sharing alternative ideas with the producers to keep it going. Don’t easily accept missed opportunities if you believe they are worthwhile. Hustle. Be creative. Be resourceful.

5. Guard the Gates – Protect the reporters you’ve built working relationships with during your career. Don’t hand off their contact info at the request of everyone in your department without first finding out what they are pitching. If it’s a poor pitch, tell them your contact wouldn’t be interested. If you must share the reporter’s info, insist that your colleague NOT use your name as a way into the conversation. Too many poor pitches that start with “David Mullen said I should give you a call” will quickly be bad for me.

What about you? What are your tips and tricks for generating more news coverage for your brand or your clients?

*Image by Rick Harrison.

If you enjoyed this post, please consider subscribing to my RSS feed, either by reader or by e-mail.

TweetIt from HubSpot

Add to FacebookAdd to DiggAdd to Del.icio.usAdd to StumbleuponAdd to RedditAdd to BlinklistAdd to Ma.gnoliaAdd to TechnoratiAdd to FurlAdd to Newsvine

Relationships Don’t Matter Most in Media Relations

holding-hands

It seems to me there are a lot of well meaning people singing the same chorus around the blog-o-sphere on the topic of media relations. Here’s the gist:

“PR people have to spend time building relationships with the people they pitch or will pitch – even if they don’t pitch them for months down the road. It’s all about relationships.”

That’s hogwash and I’ll tell you why.

Building relationships doesn’t scale for many PR folks on the agency side. Many PR pros work on multiple clients spanning vastly different industries. We target our media outreach to different beat reporters at different types of publications within different geographies. We’re pitching far too many reporters to develop meaningful relationships with each of them. It’s humanly impossible.

Lots of PR folks on the agency side work on project-based clients. That means the new tourism client he’s pitching right now to travel editors and publications won’t be around in six months. Is he supposed to keep chatting with the 200 reporters he just pitched for the past few months, if though he may never get another client in the travel industry?

Building relationships before having to pitch reporters doesn’t work for him either. How is he supposed to build relationships ahead of time with fashion and family reporters for the children’s clothing client he’ll get next year that he doesn’t even know about yet?

So what does matter most? Interesting, well-crafted pitches that are relevant to the reporter’s beat and her readers are what reign supreme. I’ve single-handedly landed a couple thousand stories for my clients in the last few years and the vast majority of the reporters I worked with didn’t know me from Adam the first time they got a phone call or an email from me. Create great pitches, make sure they’re relevant by reading the reporter’s last five articles and then share your news.

Don’t get me wrong. Relationships are important. You should pursue them when valuable and possible. But they do NOT matter most. That’s easy for people at niche agencies focusing on one industry and pitching the same reporters over and over to forget. It’s also easy for social media types to forget that the vast majority of reporters are NOT on Twitter and that even those who are may not want PR people engaging them there.

P.S. Thanks to Todd Defren for writing recently on blogger relations. He asked an interesting question on that post and the comment I left on it gave me the idea for this post.

UPDATE: If you’re one of the few people who have misread this post and think I’m saying that relationships don’t matter at all, then please read this for some clarification.

*Image by Mike Baird.

If you enjoyed this post, please consider subscribing to my RSS feed, either by reader or by e-mail.


TweetIt from HubSpot

Add to FacebookAdd to DiggAdd to Del.icio.usAdd to StumbleuponAdd to RedditAdd to BlinklistAdd to Ma.gnoliaAdd to TechnoratiAdd to FurlAdd to Newsvine

The “P” in PR Should Stand for “People”

people-relations

This week, Shannon Paul suggested that integrating social media into communications strategies was putting the “P” back in PR, renewing a focus on public instead of media. I agree with Shannon a bit, but wanted to up the ante.

Shouldn’t the “P” stand for People? My wife and I aren’t a public. We’re people. I’m willing to bet you’d say you’re people, too.

Yes, I know that “public” refers to groups of people, but that still feels a bit cold to me. This is more about changing our mindset, for those of us who need it. People expect more personal relationships and one-to-one conversations. People want to share their dreams and fears. People want to be heard. People want connections.

I believe PR is well-positioned to lead the charge in creating more powerful connections between people and our brands. But we have to look for ways to foster those relationships, which goes beyond a great story on cold newsprint.

That’s not to say that those news stories aren’t worthwhile. They always will be. But we can’t stop there. Those brands that do stop there run the risk of losing out to brands that pursue ways to engage with people. I think this will become more noticeable as the social media sphere grows, along with the opportunities it presents to connect directly with people.

Have we gotten so focused on media that we’ve elevated placements above the people we’re actually trying to reach?

Do we pitch stories to outlets that don’t target our “people” for the sake of increasing impression numbers?

Do we send stuff out on newswires because you get some automatic online “placements” and “impressions” that real people could never find by searching the news site, even with perfect keywords? (We can only find them because we’re sent a direct link.)

I agree with Shannon. Media outlets are vehicles – tools, if you will – not the end goal. But I think the conversation needs to take an even bigger step back. In Yesteryear, we could get away with simply thinking about “publics.” I think, though, that might not cut it these days. Today, it’s all about People Relations.

*Image by Jairo.

If you enjoyed this post, please consider subscribing to my RSS feed, either by reader or by e-mail.

Add to FacebookAdd to DiggAdd to Del.icio.usAdd to StumbleuponAdd to RedditAdd to BlinklistAdd to Ma.gnoliaAdd to TechnoratiAdd to FurlAdd to Newsvine

Phone Pitch Tips for Young PR Pros

Last month, Jeremy Pepper wrote a blog post saying PR pros have become too dependent on things like email to pitch reporters. In the comments section, Jeremy says the post was mainly a primer for entry-level PR people not to use technology as a crutch.

That reminded me about the many times I’ve heard people point to junior-level PR types as the major culprits when it comes to not picking up the phone to pitch. That may be true, but only because they’re usually the ones doing all the pitching. Too many senior-level PR people don’t actually pitch stories.

Yes, that’s one of the main responsibilities for junior-level people. But it’s our responsibility to make sure we’re not throwing them to the wolves. I have a friend who was told to pitch The Wall Street Journal on her first day at her first agency job out of college. She stumbled through the phone call, annoyed the reporter and felt like a tool.

I think one reason younger PR folks avoid the phone is because they are petrified of getting yelled at or becoming the subject of a pissed off reporter’s new blog post. That’s why we need to be purposeful and persistent in sharing media relations best practices with them from day one

Jeremy shares a couple tips for them on his post in regards to picking up the phone to pitch. Here are a few more that I’ve found helpful:

  • Encapsulate the story in one brief sentence for your opening. For example, “Bob, my name is David Mullen. I have a story about a high-profile family overcoming personal tragedy to found a camp for sick kids. Do you have a minute?” Bob will know right away if he’s interested enough to hear more or not.
  • Don’t launch into your pitch without asking if he “has a minute.” That annoys most people, not just journalists.
  • Capitalize on a “no.” If he hears you out, but isn’t interested, take a second to ask what topics he is interested in for future reference.
  • Keep it in perspective. My first boss said, “if you call 10 reporters and seven say ‘no,’ that can seem like a bad media relations outing. BUT keep it in perspective. Batting .300 will get you in the Hall of Fame.”

Your turn to help. What tidbits would you add to help young pros approach media relations with more confidence and better results?

*Image by Alexander O’Neill.

If you enjoyed this post, please consider subscribing to my RSS feed, either by reader or by e-mail.

Add to FacebookAdd to DiggAdd to Del.icio.usAdd to StumbleuponAdd to RedditAdd to BlinklistAdd to Ma.gnoliaAdd to TechnoratiAdd to FurlAdd to Newsvine

It’s Time to Cut Boilerplates from News Releases

A few weeks ago, some colleagues and I were talking about boilerplates and whether or not they’re still necessary. You know, those “About Company X” that come at the end of every news release. I didn’t think to blog about it at the time, but then Andy Lark asked the same question on his blog yesterday and, in the comments, got some resistance to losing the boilerplate.

My initial thought is to ditch them, at least as the norm they’ve become. I think in today’s PR world, there is little use for them. Here’s why…

  • If your news release has kept a journalist’s or blogger’s attention all the way to the bottom, then they’re probably willing to click on a link to a robust online corporate newsroom for more info.
  • They were much more necessary pre-Web days. It saved journalists time by answering the “who” in more detail. Today, it’s not necessary because of the wealth of info available on most companies’ Web sites.
  • Every word in a news release costs money if you’re distributing via a wire service. The more releases you distribute, the more money it costs. And, as we know, many companies are looking to cut costs, especially given the current marketplace.

The only times I still see them as relevant off hand would be:

  • Hard copy news releases that you’re handing to media contacts at a trade show, especially if they are reporting daily from the trade show. You never know what type of remote setup they have and it could be easier to have corporate info in hand instead of tracking down a better Wi-Fi signal.
  • Public companies who are required to disclose certain information in all public communications.

Other than that, I say we cut ‘em loose. What do you think?

UPDATE: To clarify, I’m not saying the boilerplate doesn’t have a purpose. I’m saying it has a place. And that, most of the time, that place isn’t at the end of a news release.

*Image by Hans Kylberg.

If you enjoyed this post, please consider subscribing to my RSS feed, either by reader or by e-mail.

Add to FacebookAdd to DiggAdd to Del.icio.usAdd to StumbleuponAdd to RedditAdd to BlinklistAdd to Ma.gnoliaAdd to TechnoratiAdd to FurlAdd to Newsvine

The PR Pitch Dilemma

Jeremy Pepper wrote a post yesterday about how we in the PR biz have become slaves to technology. He believes it’s caused many of us to abandon the phone and in-person meetings with reporters thanks to the ease of email pitches. Lost, he says, are the real relationships that make us valuable and, subsequently, many press clippings for clients.

His post got me thinking. There’s a PR pitch dilemma going on in our industry and reporters and PR people created it.

In short, it boils down to this: Most journalists want to be pitched by email, but a good percentage of pitches are sold only after picking up the phone and calling. So what’s a PR pro to do?

Many reporters these days prefer to be pitched by email. That’s great. But email pitches present two problems. First, we need to know if reporters are interested in a pitch or not. Bosses are asking and clients are asking. Since journalists often don’t reply to most email pitches from PR people they haven’t worked with yet, you have to pick up the phone and ask. Either that or you assume they aren’t interested and report that. But then you look like an idiot if a story shows up two weeks later and the reason the reporter didn’t let you know he was interested is because he didn’t need any further info from you.

Second, I can’t tell you how many times I’ve called to follow up on an email pitch I didn’t get a response on and the reporter was interested AFTER we talked. “I didn’t see that email, can you send me more info?” Many of those calls turned into stories for my clients.

See the dilemma? So, I offer a hearty apology to journalists, but if you don’t respond to my initial email, I have to pick up the phone and call. But I promise to only send you emails and give you phone calls when I’ve got an angle I believe is truly newsworthy.

And that’s where PR people have contributed to the dilemma. I’ve heard from several of my media connections that they often don’t see and respond to good email pitches because they get lost in the sea of daily emails they receive, many of which are pitches that are completely irrelevant to their beats, their interests and their audiences. Hopefully, those with the good stuff have the wherewithal to pick up the phone.

Do you see the dilemma? How do you navigate it?

*Image by Dan McKay.

If you enjoyed this post, please consider subscribing to my RSS feed, either by reader or by e-mail.

Add to FacebookAdd to DiggAdd to Del.icio.usAdd to StumbleuponAdd to RedditAdd to BlinklistAdd to Ma.gnoliaAdd to TechnoratiAdd to FurlAdd to Newsvine

Online News Hits are Better Than The Print Versions

In case you missed it yesterday, a top 75 U.S. newspaper offered its ENTIRE newsroom voluntary buyouts – all 320 reporters, editors, copy editors, etc. According to the paper, one of the major reasons it’s in a slump is because advertisers are pulling dollars from print newspapers and opting for online sites, including online news sites.

Is this more evidence that news outlets’ Online versions have become more important than their print counterparts?

When I started in this business, clients LOVED print news stories on their brands. Many seemed to prefer them over great TV news hits. I suspected it had something to do with being able to physically pick up a newspaper or magazine, proudly wave it around for the entire marketing department to see and then leave it along with a Post-It note in the CEO’s inbox.

Since those days, the shift in emphasis to Online newsrooms by media outlets has surged, but many clients still seem to see it as second-rate to the print version. It’s not. In fact, I think that in most cases it’s a better hit for the client. Here’s why:

  • Advertisers go where the crowds are. The reason many are shifting more dollars in to online advertising is because many news outlets’ Web sites now have more unique visitors than they have in circulation for their respective print versions. That means more people potentially see the great feature article on your brand.
  • It’s easier for readers to share online news stories about your brand with their colleagues, family and friends. Think about the time it takes to make copies of a print article and walk it to everyone in your department or to scan it in seven times to get the contrast right so you can email it. Now think about how easy it is to copy and paste a URL into an email or Digg a story.
  • The online versions don’t have the same space issues as their print counterparts. That means there’s a better chance of the article on your brand NOT being left on the editing room floor due to space constraints.
  • News organizations are focusing a lot of their attention on building and growing their online versions. They need to fill it with great editorial content to attract readers so they can attract advertisers. That’s how they make money. Since they’re looking for great content – and lots of it – it provides more opportunities for your brand’s stories to be told.

What reasons would you add? Why should we be just as happy – if not more happy – with an online hit as we are with print versions?

*Image by Alosh Bennett.

If you enjoyed this post, please consider subscribing to my RSS feed, either by reader or by e-mail.

Add to FacebookAdd to DiggAdd to Del.icio.usAdd to StumbleuponAdd to RedditAdd to BlinklistAdd to Ma.gnoliaAdd to TechnoratiAdd to FurlAdd to Newsvine