If you want your PR efforts to be effective, you must approach media relations as an ongoing process.
Every day you should be making connections and furthering relationships with key media contacts. “Relationship” is the key term. You must understand that media relations isn’t based on crafting the perfect pitch. It’s about building trust and knowing what your media contacts need.
Here are three tips to deepen your relationships with journalists and assignment editors:
1. Learn to pitch how they think.
Journalists and media pros have a different set of priorities than PR professionals. That sounds like it should be obvious, but, if it was, more people would keep those diverse priorities in mind when crafting their pitches.
If you don’t have experience as a journalist, reach out and ask them. What kinds of messages catch their attention? What kind of submissions will they actually open and read versus what kind goes directly into the trash?
Some of this work is done in the style of the press release itself. Most journalists still operate using the inverted pyramid that stacks all the most relevant information at the top of the release, with each subsequent paragraph offering important but successively less relevant information.
One test of a good press release in this style is to cut it in half right in the middle. You should still have enough of a story to run at the top.
2. Work on keeping it simple.
In some cases, depending on the subject matter, simplicity will be difficult to achieve. Some topics are weighed down with jargon, multifaceted context and complicated associations or components.
In those situations, work with reporters familiar with those topics. This could mean focusing on trade reporters or on beat reporters who have a background in the industry you’re writing about. Work with them to craft a narrative that’s substantial enough for industry pros but also understandable for a mass audience.
Another benefit of working with a reporter who understands the topic well is that you have less of a chance of making a mistake. When someone truly understands what you are trying to communicate, the chances of unforced errors are reduced.
3. Focus on people.
Whatever the topic or audience, story still sells. Consider how you might be able to craft your release in a way that humanizes your brand and helps both the journalist and the audience connect with the topic.
For example, if you are promoting a program or service to a specific audience, create a character built from that audience, and craft the message in a way that would appeal to that “real” person.
In the same way, think about ways you can make your message more personal and connective by highlighting the success of members of the team involved in the projects. So, instead of just announcing this great new widget, tell the story of the success created by members of your team.