I have worked with the media during the domination of mass media and now in the time of social and niche media. I have attended presentations where reporters talked about how little they really need from public relations pros, and others where they claim to be constantly hungry for content in a 24-7 multimedia news environment.
And nothing has really changed.
In my experience, “working” with the media is as much an exercise in dealing with being ignored as it ever was. We public relations folks diligently research outlets, compose information using the guidelines provided, send information though preferred channels or methods, and, for the most part, get absolutely nothing in return. We take the experience of spending time to put together information that yielded not even so much as an email auto-reply and decide to do it over, and over, and over again.
What keeps us going is that every now and again we DO get a response. Our timing is perfect and the information resonates with the reporter at a time when he or she is working on a story. The reward of seeing your information shared through the media washes away all memories of the endless silent treatment.
Since we PR types insist on trying to get the attention of reporters, it is important to stay on top of the latest trends that boost your (ever-so-slim) chances of a successful pitch:
- Most reporters prefer information in email in a format that they can easily access and use. Avoid attachments and put your content and images right in the body of the email.
- Provide links. Show how your content is relevant by providing links to subject matter expert bios, related stories, and other information that will help the reporter to understand the topic as well as your relevance.
- Be personable. Reporters want information from people, not organizations. Start with a polite hello. Make sure to use your name, phone, and email.
- And, do all this in a brief manner. Like everyone else, reporters will scan your information. Make sure there aren’t a lot of extra words crowding out your key message.
I welcome your thoughts on what makes a good pitch and increases the odds of getting a response. Comment here.