As a general rule, before I pick up the phone to pitch a media contact, I know their name, have researched the outlet, skimmed through recent stories the journalist has written and have an idea of why they would want to hear my pitch in the first place. This ladies and gentlemen, is the art of romancing the media.
It’s surprising how many PR professionals still operate with the old “spray and pray” method, thinking that quantity pitching rules over quality pitching.
In fact, I just read a great white paper by Cision When in Doubt that outlines the very reasons why we PR pros shouldn’t do that. The most important lesson you can learn in this industry is to research everything you possibly can about the outlet/beat of the person you’re pitching. In all honesty, those that skip this huge step really do damage to themselves and the company they represent. They also do big disservice to industry as a whole.
It just gives PR a bad name. We want the media to see us as a valuable resource, not as annoying spammers. I’m sure it would be maddening for a real estate reporter to continuously get pitched to cover the latest beauty product.
Researching the details is more time consuming, but the paybacks are better quality and even quantity coverage.
Aside from doing research before you send anything to or contact the media I have a couple of suggestions I’ve picked up from my experiences for when I pitch and follow up on the phone:
- Check out editorial calendars. These can be a gold mine. Even if they aren’t interested in covering your news now, it could be perfect for them at a later date. Follow up.
- When you call to follow up, instead of going straight to your pitch, introduce yourself and ask what they are working on. It could be in connection to what you’re pitching. Use your discretion if they sound hurried. By being natural, conversational and not just pushing your pitch, you earn their ear and respect.
- But be ready to deliver the main points of your pitch in less than 20 seconds. More often than not you will run into an editor that has no time for nonsense. Prepare for that.
Of course don’t leave out social media as another avenue for media outreach. It offers valuable insights into what journalists’ are writing about and their interests.
Above all, know that if you continue to spray and pray, it may take a few reporters giving you a piece of their minds before you never again forget to research before you reach out.