As public relations professionals, we sometimes know the sinking feeling of sending out countless pitches and getting no responses. You have carefully crafted a media list, identified top media targets, dotted your I’s, and crossed your T’s. With a witty hook, a captivating story angle, and a solid brand – why the radio silence? There are many components to the perfect outreach strategy, and understanding them all can help you secure A-list placements that will ‘wow’ your clients and your team. From simply researching a writer’s beat to pivoting your entire approach, understanding the nuances of media relations will set you up for success.
At its core, media relations is a form of communication: the act of exchanging information or news – something we as humans do every day. At Konnect Agency, a Los Angeles public relations agency, we understand the importance of personalizing our media relations efforts so that even the most run-of-the-mill topics or clients are applicable to the writers we pitch. Relevant pitches yield more responses, and more responses yield more potential for press placements. If you are stuck trying to think of how to position your hard-to-crack-client to the media, check out the below tips and reminders that will help you personalize your media relations strategy and help you book top-tier press.
Keeping an Eye on Current Events
Knowing what is happening in the news cycle is imperative for anyone who works at a public relations agency or in the media. It is important that you are mindful of current events, so you know if it is a sensitive time for the media to be receiving pitches or publishing stories. During a time of uncertainty such as the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, a time of political unrest during the 2020 United States election, or even when dealing with extreme weather conditions, we chose to hold off on outreach and understood when many client stories were put on hold to make room for timely, more news-breaking stories. Keeping an eye on the news cycle is also important for PR planning as there are often seasonal and evergreen stories that frequently run year after year. If your client has holiday offerings, summer gear, or anything that can be tied to a specific time of the year, you always have a story angle in your back pocket!
Tailoring Your Pitches to Each Writer
When onboarding a client, together you will decide on a media wish list of publications to prioritize for coverage. Once you identify those outlets, how do you pick which writers to pitch? Do you research a writer’s portfolio to see if their current beat matches your pitch angle? If you do your due diligence and to find the best contact to pitch for your client, you will surely start to have more meaningful media conversations. You can even hyperlink one of the writer’s previous stories in the introduction of your pitch, which will show that you have done your research and you aren’t going to pitch a topic that will be disinteresting and off-beat. Understanding the importance of pitching the best contact at each publication for your specific client will not only help you secure press for your client, but will also build your credibility as a PR professional who has adequately researched the writer’s beat and the audience interests and demographics.
Keep it Conversational
At the end of the day, media relations is simply a conversation, and it should be treated as such. Personalizing your conversations with the media not only increases your email response rate, but also builds strong relationships with the media and creates the opportunity for future press pieces. Acknowledging that there is actually another person on the other end of the computer or phone can help you sound more confident, casual, and personable in your communication, leading to productive partnerships with your media friendlies. It can be as simple as asking how they are doing before you start discussing the pitch or follow-up, which instantly humanizes a would-be formal note. For those hard-to-crack clients, collaborating with the media on story angles is another great way to secure coverage if you know they are already interested in your brand or product. Brainstorming together not only helps the writer with a catchy angle, but also ensures your client is included, if not highlighted, as a focal point of the story. Collaborative, conversational media discussions are imperative to developing strong media relationships and securing meaningful press placements.
Have a Direct Call to Action
After you share information about your product or brand, you’ll want to make sure the writer knows exactly what you are asking of them by reading your pitch. A call to action is important as it can help the writer quickly decide if they want to engage with you further, even if they only scan the body of the pitch. The call to action also tells the writer why they should be interested in your pitch, and how it can benefit them by responding. Your call to action can significantly influence the direction of your media conversations, so choose it wisely! A few examples are listed below:
- Offer a sample in exchange for coverage consideration
- Offer an interview with a relevant person on the client team
- Ask if they are working on any stories where your client could be a fit
- Offer a gift card to your client’s website or establishment so they can experience for themselves
Don’t Be Afraid to Pivot
Reworking your media outreach strategy shouldn’t be seen as a failure, but instead as a way to learn from your approach and find a new, surefire media opportunity. Sometimes this means editing a subject line to something short and catchy to increase the likelihood of opening your email, adding meaningful statistics or information that will bolster your product, changing the call to action, or even drafting a new pitch altogether and finding a new, compelling angle. It is important to collaborate with your team during this process so you can find out the best way to alter your strategy, identify new writers to pitch, and brainstorm ideas for creative content.