During the holiday season, as children hope they don’t find lumps of coal in their stockings, some public relations professionals may feel similar pangs of anxiety about whether they’re on a reporter’s “naughty” or “nice” list.
Inspired by my colleague’s “Art of pitching the media
” blog post, I’d like to add some recommendations on how you can continue to stay on journalists’ nice lists—because no one in PR wants coal in their email inbox.
1. Do your research
In the professional world, it’s always a good idea to learn about a person’s interests prior to a formal meeting. When trying to get a job, for example, you should learn about your interviewer’s background so you’re able to provide more educated and relatable answers.
The same goes for reporters. A successful public relations professional is constantly monitoring the news and making a mental note of the stories a reporter covers. This knowledge comes in handy when it comes time to pitch a story. Reporters’ positions and beats are always changing, so PR pros have to stay on top of their game.
2. Write your pitch around your research
You spent time researching a reporter’s beat, so take the time to write a personalized pitch. Reporters are constantly bombarded with generalized pitches that serve no purpose to them, other than causing frustration and clogging their inbox. An attention-grabbing subject line referring to a reporter’s recent story will catch his or her eye; it shows you have been following the reporter’s work. After all, everyone likes to be noticed.
3. Respect their deadlines
As this PR Daily
article points out, reporters, producers, and bloggers all have different news cycles. Many publications have morning editorial meetings to discuss upcoming features and new ideas. If you are pitching an editorial placement, it’s best to reach out to the reporter or editor before these meetings, as your pitch will be at the top of his or her mind.
If you are pitching a broadcast opportunity, don’t do so when the segment is airing, as it shows that you are unaware of the program’s airing schedule.
4. Careful how you follow up your pitch
After sending your pitch, allow time for a reporter to respond. The last thing a reporter, editor, or producer wants is to hear, “Did you get my email?” when the original pitch was sent only 10 minutes prior. Unless the opportunity is time sensitive—for example, offering an exclusive or embargo—the best practice is to follow up the next day via phone.
5. Monitor for coverage
When a reporter decides to cover your pitch, it adds an extra touch to send a quick thank-you email when the coverage goes live, telling him or her that you enjoyed working together. This simple exchange shows that you monitored for the story, value the reporter’s work, and look forward to working together in the future.
If you follow these five steps, chances are you will stay on a reporter’s nice list, secure great coverage for your clients and, most importantly, avoid coal in your inbox.
Katherine Connors is an account coordinator at InkHouse Media + Marketing, where this story first appeared. Follow Katherine on Twitter @knconnors.