Newsrooms continue to shrink, media contacts are wearing more hats than ever and the revolving door of new faces in media each day is a sobering reality. Whether it’s broadcast, print, blogger or other channels, keep these seven methods top-of-mind:
Get to the point. Keeping subject lines of emails short and enticing has always been a best practice. So, think “short and enticing” when it comes to email copy. Media want to know: 1.) Who is involved? 2.) What’s happening? 3.) When and where will it happen? 4.) Why should I care? 5.) What do you want from me?
Timing is everything. When’s the best time to contact media? Personally, I try to avoid pitching on Mondays and Fridays. Aside from that, pay attention and ask questions. If you notice that a particular editor or producer only responds to emails between 9-11 a.m., guess what time I’m pitching? Track tendencies and have a game plan.
To attach or not to attach? When first introducing myself to a contact, I always like to complement the conversation with a couple questions regarding how he or she likes to receive information. Does he or she like attachments or not? Most tend to gravitate towards no, unless the attachments are photos. Rule of thumb: Copy and paste your release into the email body.
Relationships matter. When dealing with deadlines in a time-sensitive environment, set the right expectations and never promise something you can’t deliver. Be honest with your contacts. You may not be able to give them everything they want every time, but if they know they can trust you to deliver what you say you can, you gain respect and trust.
Help! By nature, journalists and PR pros are one-in-the-same: Both are looking for great stories to share. Offer to help your media contacts with story ideas that may or may not have something to do with a current client. Taking time to help a media contact with no immediate benefit to yourself counts for something. They’ll remember you next time you have a need.
Respect the game. Newsrooms are crazy busy and people don’t have much time to chat. Don’t be offended if a contact doesn’t stay on the phone long enough to hear everything you have to say. This, again, is a reminder to get to the point and give media what they need. Respect their time and you’ll gain more credibility.
On the record. As a best practice, know that you’re always on the record. As it pertains to your media contacts, flip the script. If a media contact decides to have a side conversation with you, take notes. There will be times when they open up to you about what’s going on at work, upcoming story deadlines, story ideas, etc. That info may help you in the future with client coverage. Pay attention!