Media Relations 101 – The Persistent Publicist

Do I call again? Should I leave a message this time? Or maybe email is best? Courting an editor, reporter or producer can feel like you are asking someone out on a first date. It takes persistence and a little patience to begin a new relationship as well as to engage the media.

In a perfect world, you would pitch your client’s latest new hire announcement, thought leadership position or newly launched product and the reporter would go ahead and incorporate it into their upcoming coverage.

Well, it is never that easy. Even after creating a comprehensive, laser focused media list that aligns with the client’s news and media’s beat, drafting the perfect pitch with catchy subject line and just the right amount of information, you still need to follow up. And sometimes you need to follow up again and again.

The media is bombarded with hundreds of emails a day. How do you thoughtfully and respectfully stay top-of-mind, without forcing the reporter to block your phone number?

Share relevant information.

We share information that aligns with the reporter’s beat. Not only is it important to know what topics a reporter covers, but it is important to actually read what they write. In doing so, we gain a better understanding of what they cover and pick up clues to predict future coverage.

Continue to follow the reporter’s coverage.

Find tactful and meaningful ways to follow up. Maybe there is link between the reporter’s recent article and what our client can speak to. The specific topic we pitched may not work this time, but there could be another way incorporate our client’s area of expertise.

Acknowledge a great article written by the reporter.

You don’t always have to reach out to the media with a pitch. Sending an email with no expectation of something in return shows you are paying attention and have an understanding of how the news cycle works.

Be respectful of their time.

Reporters are busy and don’t always have time for a phone conversation. When making follow up phone calls, I ask, “Is this a good time?” If not, ask “when would be best to follow up” and make sure to follow up at the requested time. Sometimes all a reporter needs you to do is resend your pitch so it is at the top of their inbox to reference later.

Be aware of the editorial cycle.

Check editorial calendars. Many publications have already mapped out their coverage for the year. Review and highlight those topics that are relevant for your clients. Once you have determined an appropriate fit, reach out ahead of time. Plant the seed early, explain how your client can add value. It may require continued follow up until the editor is ready to focus on the topic.

There is nothing more rewarding than seeing the fruits of your labor realized in the form of a TV interview, placed op-ed or inclusion of your client’s quote in an article. But the best feeling of all is when a reporter reaches out to you directly for information from your client because you have shared thoughtful, relevant information with them in the past and have been courteous of their time as they develop their stories.

They say patience is a virtue. It couldn’t be truer than in the world of public relations. It is all about respecting the reporter’s time and demonstrating an understanding of what they cover. This takes a polite persistence and, of course, patience.

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