Don’t send mass emails. Keep your message short. Know your writer. This is sage advice for media relations in the best of times. But what about during a global pandemic? Let’s just say you’re going to need to know the foundations and go the extra mile. Don’t worry, we’re here to help. Because 2020 has already been one for the books, we’ve laid out some suggestions and tips for approaching media relations for the rest of the year. Like anything worth doing, make sure to add finesse to your approach, mine the depths of your mind for creativity and make sure you’ve done the research to back it up.
Dust off the media list
The media landscape has been altered because of the coronavirus. Do some digging and make sure you know what journalists currently cover. If they were sports writers before, they’re not right now. You get the idea. Reading the work of journalists you’re pitching will not only solidify them as the right contact but it will provide an opening line for your email. That’s because it needs to be personal and relevant right off the bat. You’re reaching out to them because they write about [your industry] and you think they would be interested in hearing more about [your destination or product]. That’s a well-researched pitch. Others get overlooked, deleted, or worst of all – blocked. While you’re at it, make sure no one else has already written your story. All this pre-pitch work will be worth it in the end.
Go beyond the URL
If you can’t search a publication’s website because of all the pop-up ads (support media, they need revenue!), pop off of the site and search out active writers on social. Journalists’ preferred channel is Twitter, and it’s also a great place for you to search using terms similar to how you search on Google. Search “travel freelancer” “wine editor” “UFOlogist” etc. and see what you find. You might be surprised! Well, not about the UFOs, we all know they exist now, right?
Play the field
Sure, some journalists like to work with familiar brands, but many successful pitches happen with new contacts. Cold emailing works if you’ve done your research and send a newsworthy and compelling story idea. Besides, publications usually can’t cover the same company repeatedly without a good reason. Editors don’t like that, so they need new sources.
Get in the mood
Make time to craft your pitch. You should be proud of it even if no one responds. You should want someone else to review it just so they can tell you how good it is. It should excite you, make you laugh or be really well written. You should put energy into it. If you believe it’s worthy, it’s more likely it really is, and you’ll get a response. Don’t leave your creativity in quarantine. Remember it’s storytelling, not just product. Start there.
Rejection can be a good thing
Being successful at media relations does not always mean securing the story. Sometimes success looks like just getting a response. Journalists are busy. If you get a quick yes or no, your pitch was most likely good. Understand the value of that email response. They took the time out of their day, out of the hundreds of pitches they receive. You’re on the right path, so it could be a sign that you should pitch it to someone else. In addition to momentum, you’ve now established a touch point with this writer, and are starting your relationship. Sometimes it takes a couple of “no’s” from your favorite writer before you get a “yes.” Every email is a chance to build the connection.
Hitch your wagon…
To get your company noticed, consider timing your news with a national holiday or event. Ever hear of National Grilling Day? National Travel and Tourism Week? You better believe these seemingly arbitrary days are mile markers you can tie your brand to. Find trusted third-party data points, stats, trends and other insights you can weave into your pitch to make it easier and more compelling to cover your story. Sending something that’s trending, especially if you notice that it’s an angle your contact covers, often is a smart move. It also takes care of one of the most important questions in PR pitching: why now?
Share and share alike
You’re probably wanting the journalist to share your story on their social channels, right? Well they want the same thing. In fact, most media are required to amplify their digital news via social media. Help a reporter out! Share their posts, like them, comment on them, etc. Take advantage of the opportunity to connect via platforms like Twitter, where it’s expected and even encouraged to interact with the wider public, not just close-knit friends. This can give you the advantage in a crowded inbox.
Most PR professionals know that the follow-up is where the magic happens. A quick soft follow-up often gets more responses than the initial email. When re-connecting, include new information if you can. That could be a photo gallery link, a fact sheet or a quote from your client. It shows the writer that you’re committed and someone they can count on if they decide to pursue the story.
Success may look like the end result, but it takes a lot to get there. Unless you’re Beyoncé or adoptable puppies, and then you probably don’t need to pitch anyone anyw