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.
Most PR pros engage in endless meetings, phone calls and emails, sharing information with internal project managers, field representatives and others.
With luck, all of that communication occasionally presents you with a homerun, or as it’s sometimes called – a good idea.
Now the rush is on. This is your opportunity to get into the PR frenzy around National Scrapbooking Day, Rural Life Sunday or some other pseudo-celebratory occasion. Maybe it’s even your big trade show of the year.
But before rushing off to have your agency write a news release, check to see if the company brass is on board and supportive. Need a subject matter expert to handle interviews? Make sure you have someone knowledgeable and media-trained available as you announce your news. If you want to name any customers, confirm their participation first.
I don’t need to run down the entire checklist. But I do offer a word of caution: Make sure all you’ve done all of your homework before loading up to launch a campaign. Sometimes it’s better to slow down – there will be another opportunity soon enough.
Act too fast, and that good idea may not lead to a great result.
Follow me on Twitter @jdaum
Most of us are inundated daily with too much information. It comes from our email, Twitter, Facebook, RSS feeds, blogs or text messages. If you’re like me, most of what comes into your computer or mobile device is junk.
I do receive a few nuggets that I want or need to read, I appreciate those writers that use the fewest words to create a clear message. Brevity is a virtue.
I recently read an interesting column from the publisher of PR Daily about circumlocution — the use of many words when one will do.
Here are a few examples:
Rather than using “in advance of,” try the word “before”
“With the exception of” can be adequately replaced by “except”
The thought behind “at this point in time” is more articulately stated using the word “now”
I have a few pet peeves of my own, not all reducing the number, but also the length – or even necessity – of some words.
“On a regular basis” is a long way of writing “regularly”
Why use “approximately” when “about” does the job using eight fewer letters?
Does the word “actually” have any serious value?
If you use Twitter, with its 140-character limit, you understand the need for brevity. Take that same attitude into all of your electronic communications. Your readers will appreciate it.
Do you have a few of your own pet peeves to share?
Follow me on Twitter @jdaum
Image courtesy: AllSpammedUp.com
I will never buy a Lint Lizard, a Magic Jack, a Pimsleur language program or Orgreenic Cookware. If, like me, you have an email address that has been around for a while and has also been listed as a contact on a website, you probably can make the connection between these brands. The marketers behind these products all use email to sell them. And by “use” email – I mean USE email. They are spammers by any other name and I don’t just get one or two emails a day. I get 10 to 20 or more a day from some of these brands.
I know there are spam blockers to take care of overzealous e-mailers, but they aren’t perfect and all too often I have had them snag important email from clients or trusted vendors. I can take care of most of my spam on my PC by marking it as spam and having it sent straight to my junk email box. But, when it comes to my iPhone, it’s another story. I have to delete each piece of spam by hand. Most iPhone users can empathize with the frustration I feel as I wade through 200 plus emails, weeding out the spam just to get to the 10 emails I need to review – a process repeated several times through the day.
I realize there isn’t much I can do to stem the tide of unwanted advertising. I can’t get on a “do not email” list (although there is a germ of an idea here) and trying to unsubscribe doesn’t seem to help at all. But, there is one thing that I can do. One way that I can show my disgust for this annoying marketing tactic – and that is to never (I mean never) buy one of these products. The Lint Lizard could be the most amazing household tool ever invented, but I will not purchase one. I would rather have lint flowing out of my house to the point that it looks like a giant Q-tip before I give these email vultures my business.
So does spam sell products or “unsell” them as it has with me? A recent article in The Consumerist supports my case. It highlights how some retailers are realizing that when it comes to promotional emails, less is more. Responsible retailers such as Nicole Miller have found that going from sending out three email ads a week to one has decreased its unsubscribe rate and increased its open rate from 15 to 40 percent. The company has also seen the percentage of online sales that began with an email grow from 10 to 17 percent.
I know why the marketers of Lint Lizard and Orgreenic Cookware do what they do. They do it for one simple reason – it works. They obviously get enough people to buy their products by sending out a deluge of email each day. This week they are selling cookware and lint cleaners and next week it will be another hot product overwhelming my inbox with offers. They are looking for a quick sale, not long-term customers. Most (smart) companies realize that current customers are like gold and running them off is a serious mistake.
If you are sending regular email to your customers it might be time to review your process. Ask yourself: are you really targeting your email blasts – that is sending your customers email that provides them with valuable offers or information? And do you have an easy way of letting customers opt out of promotional emails?
Reviewing your marketing email practices could help you prevent turning existing customers into “non-customers.” I just hope that Nordstrom doesn’t turn to email spam as a selling tool – I would hate to have to give up my shoe addiction.