We live in an age where news media are juggling a mix of tight deadlines, shrinking staffs, an ongoing need for social media content, and a 24-hour news cycle. These demands mean building solid media relationships is more important now than ever before to ensure you position yourself to break through. Pitching to journalists, reporters, bloggers and editors can be tricky, and often times grabbing their attention is the hardest part. Below are some top media relations pitfalls and some tips on how to avoid them!
Pitfall #1: Pitching at the Wrong Time
Have you ever tried to speak to a reporter but got a sense that they were running out the door or too busy trying to meet a hard deadline? It’s important to be mindful of media schedules. Their agendas can fluctuate depending upon the day or the breaking news they may be working on, but, no matter when you’re pitching, it’s important to be conscious of their time. For example, you may find it challenging to get in touch with a morning TV assignment editor at 4:00 p.m. Broadcast news teams often have assignment meetings prior to 9:00 a.m. to outline what they are going to cover for the day. Coordinating your pitching time to align with their schedule is key. It’s also crucial to be mindful of deadlines. Trade editors won’t be able to act on a pitch, if their editorial deadline has already passed. Time is of the essence!
Pitfall #2: Sending a Standardized Pitch and Not Researching the Journalist
You know those emails that start off with “Dear [First Name]” and sound generic? It looks like an endless sea of placeholders for your first name and company. Those can be hazardous when pitching. Research and personalization are a powerful way to establish a connection with media contacts. If possible, reference an article they’ve written previously. It creates a great transition, and they’ll be happy to see you’re following their beat.
Pitfall #3: Not Following Up
You’ve sent an email to a reporter and haven’t heard from them for a few days. Don’t give up – send them a quick follow-up message or call depending on the timeliness of the topic. Just be cautious about bombarding them with follow-ups. If it turns out they aren’t interested, don’t let it discourage you from future pitching. Sometimes, it all depends on their capacity and space/time constraints of the moment. There may be a natural connection for a future opportunity.
Pitfall #4: Failing to Highlight the Benefit to Their Audience Right Off the Bat
Instead of spending the first few minutes talking about YOU and YOUR company, focus on why this benefits THEM, THEIR beat and THEIR readers/viewers/listeners. You want to gain their interest and express the importance of why their audience would want to hear about what you’re pitching. Also, be sure to keep it short, sweet and to the point.
Staying connected and forming effective media relationships are two of the most significant aspects of successful media relations. At Moxie, our goal is to ensure we are being good partners for our media contacts – ensuring we are giving them the information they need in the format they want. Interested in learning more? Feel free to reach out to us at [email protected]!