As public relations professionals, one of our goals is to get as much positive publicity and brand awareness for our clients as possible; but with an ever-changing media landscape where — according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics — public relations professionals outnumber journalists by more than 6-to-1, sometimes it can feel nearly impossible to land that important piece of coverage when you need it most. So, how do you manage to grab the attention of a reporter? It may seem like a daunting task, but it’s actually easier than you think. For the team here at Commonwealth Public Relations, it’s all about relationship building.
As a former reporter myself, I know what it feels like to have an inbox inundated with pitch, after pitch, after pitch. Most of the time, they went straight into the trash icon on the side of my inbox. If the sender was lucky, I might quickly skim over their pitch if the subject line caught my eye; but, do you know what the one thing that guaranteed I would read through an email was? If I recognized the person who sent it.
Obviously, you’re not going to be on a first name basis with each and every reporter you pitch, but what’s important is that you put forward the effort to, at the very least, understand their needs and wishes.
Even if you only plan to reach out to a reporter once or twice, try to at least find out how they like to be pitched – whether that’s via email or over the phone. Give the news desk a call and see what their deadlines are. Read some of their recent stories and get an idea of their voice or what interests them and tailor your pitch accordingly.
If you plan on working with them often in the future, reach out with a friendly phone call or casual email, asking them about these things. Build a relationship with them that goes beyond your pitches. Find out when the best time is to send a story idea or commend them on a story of theirs you found particularly compelling. Follow them on social media and like and share some of their work.
Putting in that extra effort may seem like a waste of time, but it shows the reporter you care and that you’re not just spamming them with the same pitch you’ve sent to a dozen other outlets. Having someone there who you know is reliable and understands your needs is incredibly valuable for a reporter and it can almost guarantee your pitch will, at the very least, get read – which is half the battle.
Remember, reporters are people, just like you. They deal with the same stresses. They have long hours and tight deadlines. The last thing they need is to be pestered by someone they’ve never heard of for a story that doesn’t pertain to them.
Simply put, take the time to build a relationship with reporters. It can make all the difference in the world.
For more PR tips, check out our blog!