Strong media relationships can help you get your story picked up by the media so that you can reach a larger audience than you otherwise could. Building these relationships helps you get your brand off the ground and helps the media get stories to fill their days. Win-win.
7 Media Relations Tips
Remember the Media is Under Time Constraints
If you have a story that you want the media to pick up, you better get that story together as quickly as you can. In the news world, stories come and go rapidly. You may have the most amazing story ever, but it will only matter if it is shared while it is most relevant. If it isn’t timely, it likely won’t ever be aired or published. So, pay attention to the timing of your stories. If you have something from a few days ago, maneuver carefully. An irrelevant, old story could waste the media’s time, hurting your relationship.
Do Not Reach Out More than Twice
Have you ever emailed someone something really important and not received a response back? Alright, put yourself in that space because that is a common thing that happens in the news world. Sometimes you really have to fight for your story’s place. So, send that email with your story details in it or your already written press release. If you don’t get an immediate response, wait a few hours (or a day if it isn’t super urgent) and then give your media people a call.
Do not send two emails. If your receiver didn’t give you a response, it’s probably because s/he didn’t have time to read your article, didn’t think it was worth publishing or thinks it could be worth publishing if nothing else comes along (which isn’t a bad thing!). Making a quick phone call can easily get you that answer, plus it shows initiative and a sense of urgency.
Choose Your Outlet Wisely
When you are trying to decide which, let’s say, news station you are going to submit your piece to, think about what that station generally shares, what their values are and what kinds of stories are atypical for them. This will help you in deciding who you will share your story with and can help insure that your story isn’t skewed in some way.
Keep Story Ideas of Brief
If you aren’t sending out a press release but are instead sending a prompt for a story you would like them to cover, be sure that you are as brief in your email about it as possible. If they don’t like your idea within the first couple sentences, they aren’t going to finish reading it. Save them time by getting straight to the point. If they want details, they’ll contact you.
Customize Your Pitch
To ensure that someone is picking up your idea, it may be wise to send your prompt to multiple different media channels/outlets. Be sure, though, that you are tailoring each pitch to each reporter/journalist/etc. that you are sending it to. Think of your prompt as a cover letter. You wouldn’t send a generic cover letter to each company you apply to… that would ensure that you wouldn’t get hired. The same is true here, show why your story matters to each of the outlets you send it to. They may each have different ideas why, so do your research.
Don’t Push Your Brand
If you are writing a press release and looking for the media to pick it up, don’t be overly self-promoting in it. Remember, you are trying to tell a newsworthy story with your press release. This isn’t a sales pitch. The media isn’t looking to give you free advertising, they are looking for a way to fill the little bit of space they have with a story. So give them a story.
Get to Know the Journalists
This is something that is really important especially for small community businesses. When you have a good relationship with the media, they are more likely to call you up to get a story from you. This is why getting to know the individuals and their niche in the media is so important. You can create a mutually beneficial relationship.