By Lauren Everett
Media relations is about understanding how the ever-changing media landscape operates, and knowing what journalists want, to effectively generate editorial coverage.
Which is important, because editorial is a powerful tool. It builds credibility, leveraging an independent source to communicate a message, often with a greater depth of information when compared to advertising. When done right, earned coverage can deliver impressive results and help journalists tackle their everyday pressures.
1. Timing is everything
To get your story in the news and keep a good relationship with whoever you’re pitching to, think about their editorial schedule before picking up the phone or sending in a pitch.
The general rule of thumb is to send your pitch before the journalist decides what they are going to cover for the day, between 7.30 am and 10 am.
That said, media pitching isn’t a blanket approach and will differ depending on the medium’s news cycle. Check what time their show is on air and when they have their daily editorial meetings so you’re not pitching while the TV segment is live, and you’re giving the journalist enough time to successfully pitch the story on to their editor.
2. Know the audience
Study the media to understand their audience/readers/listeners. This will determine your news angle. Pitching a story that isn’t relevant to a journalist is a quick way to get your email deleted.
A news editor will look for straightforward news stories; a features editor will be more interested in an in-depth story; consumer media will look for stories that appeal to the public; while trade media will be interested in material that is of interest to the industry.
The audience can also change within the same media. The producer in charge of planning a morning show is looking for different content than the 6pm news producer. You’ll notice breakfast TV has fluffier stories that are more feature lead than the nightly news bulletin.
3. Build good media relationships
Don’t be afraid to stalk. Before you call a journalist, read their stories and follow them on Twitter to know what interests them. Invite them for a quick coffee and ask how they’re doing, what they’re working on and what they need from you.
This will enable you to have deeper, more meaningful relationships with media. It will guarantee you’re offering your contacts the most relevant information.
4. Give them everything
When you’re distributing a media release, make sure the email contains everything needed to cover the story. This can include quotes, key points in an easily digestible form, high-resolution images, b-roll and prepared spokespeople or case studies for media interviews.
5. Maintain the momentum
Secured a feature story in a tier one media publication? Now the work begins. An early print piece in an influential publication can be the beginning of a great run.
Broadcast news often get their guest ideas and major stories in the morning paper. Have a media plan in place that will leverage this and help gain maximum exposure.
While the role of earned media is crucial in building credibility, it’s harder than ever to secure. Newsrooms and budgets continue to shrink, which means PR needs to evolve to media’s changing needs. To do it, we need to stay aware of the news agenda, and make sure we’re always providing real, tangible value to journalists.