Welcome to Ang’s Media Relations 101. Please take your seat.
I’m not a professor with a doctorate, but I can confidently say—and I’m sure other professionals would agree—college prepares new professionals with the basic tools for media relations: how to compose a press release, how to write for a certain audience and the importance of writing in AP style. However, the nitty-gritty details that are important to securing a placement in desired publications aren’t taught in the classroom.
During my time here at AKHIA, I’ve had the opportunity to pitch to the media on a variety of projects and topics—and I’ve learned a lot. Here are my top four basic tips for new pros pitching to the media:
- Do your research on the publication and the reporter. In hindsight, I realize college puts an enormous emphasis on writing for specific audiences, which is a valued skill in the communications field. But, it is crucial to remember the stepping stone to reaching your audience: the journalist. Start with a targeted media list. Find the publications and the correct contacts at the publications who are most likely to find your information relevant and interesting. Then, dig more; read their articles and examine their style of writing. This will increase your chances of finding the right journalists who will deem your story compelling.
- Perfect your pitch. The best way to fool-proof your pitch is to use simple language with an obvious hook and message. Great pitches are clear, concise and relevant to the reporter and their audience, telling them exactly why they should care about your story. See what I did there?
- Follow through with a great follow-up. It’s appropriate, unless stated otherwise, to start your follow-ups with a phone call. To avoid awkward silences while searching for the right words and nervous ramblings, prepare talking/selling points to have in front of you. Journalists are busy. They will give you 30 seconds of their time, at most, to sell your story. Because of this, ask if you’re calling at a convenient time before diving into a full phone pitch. Send a follow-up email whether you have had a conversation with the journalist or not. See if there’s any additional information to add to the proposed story, but keep it concise.
- Thank journalists for their coverage. As with most things in life, a thank-you goes a long way. As an intern, you won’t be pitching to the same journalists all the time. That makes it hard to build meaningful relationships. So, it’s important to make a good impression when you are able to interact. I am not sure if any journalists remember me, but I can say I have received some “No problem. Let me know if you have any other stories I would be interested in,” emails in return due to my efforts.
Learning the best way to interact with the media is important because it’s such a large part of the public relations strategy. Developing these fundamentals will improve your message and results.
What media relations tips do you have for new pros?