PR representatives often get a bad reputation for simply doing their jobs. But without them, the media would be without many expert sources, and the businesses they work for would be without representation. Their job is more crucial than many realize.
However, you can do the job in a way that engages and interests members of the media, rather than making them hit "delete" on your pitch. We interviewed journalists on their perspectives and preferences. Here are five PR tactics that work best.
Do your research
"To reach a journalist with a meaningful message, research that journalist. Know their publication, beat and reporting interests, and hone in only on those who are a match to what you are trying to promote. This not only can gain publicity for one event, film, product, etc., it can create a lasting relationship with great value. Make the pitch to the point, and do not be afraid to make a brief follow-up call. If the journalist is not interested, thank them for talking with you and move on. You can, however, make later pitches to that person following the same procedure." – Don Allison, senior editor of The Bryan Times and publisher at Faded Banner Publications
Follow up on your promises
"PR professionals know how to mass pitch. The problem is with the follow-up. Journalists work on tight deadlines. If you offer a product to review, when requested, actually send the product. When you offer an expert to interview, have the expert available … If you cannot do what you said, do not offer in the first place." – Dan Shube, CSP, golf, travel and entertainment journalist, and CMO of Labor Finders International, Inc.
Speak the outlet's language
"The tactic that worked best on me as a journalist – and which I use all the time now – is to speak the language of the outlet. TV shows, magazines and newspapers have columns and spaces that have names, things like Up Front, Mudroom, Closer Look. If you're pitching a specific space, name it in the pitch. If the space isn't named, describe in terms that might be used in the newsroom. For example, 'this seems like it could be a good fit for one of the short front-of-the-book features you write,' or 'it seems like this might work as one of the interviews you do toward the end of hour.' This helps journalists share your vision of how the story idea fits into their work." – Jason Simms, former journalist for Willamette Week and The Oregonian, and principal of Simms PR
"I've been a journalist for a long time – mostly human interest and feature stories – and I've always learned that for PR, the best tactics always lie in novelty. Just shock the audience, give them something new, unique, something worth talking about. I believe that no single person is boring, and there is always an angle that you can take advantage of, to make a story worth sharing." – Karla Singson, journalist, and events and PR Lead at PREP - PR, Events and Promotions
Personalize your pitch
"My No. 1 tactic would be to target the right reporter and make your pitch personal. Reporters can spot a copy-and-paste job from a mile away. My inbox was constantly filled with publicists from Los Angeles and New York trying to get their clients on our morning show. News flash – I'm a general assignment reporter, not the executive morning producer. Sending some positive feedback on recent work lets a reporter know you went the extra mile to read their stuff and identify the right contact." – Adam Yosim, former journalist for Fox45 and senior account executive for Stanton Communications, Inc.