After nearly a decade in public relations, I’ve learned a lot about what reporters don’t like. I’ve made the awkward phone calls. I’ve had an editor tell me to call back when I did my homework. And I’ve had those great conversations that lead to a front-page story.
Nothing can guarantee coverage when pitching a story idea or company press release. But there are several ways you can greatly increase the chances the reporter will read your email.
1. Get to know reporters.
It’s so much easier to pitch a story to a reporter if you already have a relationship. There are many times I’m thankful I can pick up the phone to text or call a reporter to say, “So, I had this idea for a story you might like,” because we’ve established a good rapport.
But if you are new to PR, this can seem challenging. Here are a few great ways to start building relationships with reporters who cover your industry or city:
- Follow them on Twitter
- Read/watch their stories
- Invite them to coffee
2. Make sure its news.
Most reporters are swamped. Wasting their time is the worst thing you can do. Don’t send irrelevant emails. Don’t call five times after you send the press release. And most importantly, make sure what you are sending them is actually news.
A few things that are NOT news:
- Your company’s anniversary
- Marketing information (don’t just send a list of reasons why your company is awesome and expect a story out of it)
- “Me too” ideas which repeat the topic the reporter just covered without offering anything new
If you haven’t already, please get rid of the “spray and pray” approach to sending out releases and pitches. It’s rare that I blast anything out to hundreds of reporters at a time. Every time I pitch for a client, I carefully review the media list for the market and make sure I’m picking the right reporter or editor for that particular topic.
It’s just as important to localize each pitch. Here are a few quick ways to let the reporter know you are sending them relevant information for their city:
- Provide data/information for each media market
- Include the city/county in the subject line
- Add in photos or video from that market
- Include a quote from the local manager or employee
Remember, working with the media is a two-way street. If you take the time to build relationships and develop personalized, news-worthy information reporters will notice. And they’ll stop deleting your emails.
Larisha is a Senior Account Executive at Candor. She is an experienced graphic designer, writer and public relations practitioner. She has received several awards for her roles in publication design, web graphic design and communications campaigns. After several years of working for a non-profit organization, she is accustomed to filling the many roles of a communications department. She is well-versed in everything from rebranding and event planning to publication layout and social media plans. She holds a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Journalism with an emphasis on Public Relations from the University of Oklahoma.
Larisha joined IABC Central Oklahoma chapter in the spring of 2010 and volunteered to serve on the board shortly after becoming a member. She has served as VP Communications, VP Special Events, President and Past-President. She has also attended two IABC Leadership Institutes on behalf of the chapter.