This article was originally published on PR Daily in March 2016.
Reporters can be unpredictable.
A hot-button issue one day can be old news the next. Given these changing preferences, it can be difficult to latch on to what’s trending at any given time.
Yet, this is what PR professionals do on a daily basis to grab media coverage for their clients. Knowing what’s currently in the news and understanding media relations tactics are imperative to winning with journalists.
Here are five ways to perfect your pitches—and make your press releases and stories more newsworthy:
1. Read the news.
Don’t only read the news—read articles written by reporters to whom you want to pitch.
You will get a sense for what kind of topics reporters cover, their writing style and the kinds of things they print. You can then easily tailor a pitch or press release to a specific reporter or publication.
The more relevant it is to the reporter, the more likely your piece will make it to print.
2. Don’t spam journalists.
You want your press releases to be targeted. If you are arbitrarily sending story pitches blindly to an email list, you will get ignored.
Worse yet, any future press release you send to a journalist that you spammed before may end up seeing the same fate—whether you tailored it to the publication or not.
At Amplify Relations, we use Cision PR, which allows users to search for journalists by location, publication type, job title and beat. This way, I can easily narrow down those to whom I want to pitch a press release or news story.
I can even set up automatic emails with stories by reporters from specific publications or stories that contain certain keywords.
3. Add quotes.
Quotes will humanize a press release and give credibility to your story. It’s also one less source that reporters will have to seek out themselves to create their story.
Offer pertinent quotes with good information and substance, and your reporter will likely publish at least fragments of your original press release.
4. Include the five “Ws.”
Within the first paragraph, the reporter who received your press release should be able to answer the five Ws: Who? What? When? Where? Why?
Review your press release and ask yourself these questions. There’s no news angle if they can’t be answered.
5. Recognize deadlines.
We all work off of deadlines, but the most important deadline to keep in mind is the journalist’s.
If your release is timely, you give plenty of lead time for a reporter to cover it. Don’t send timely or breaking news and give no wiggle room for reporters to fit it into their print schedules. This is how your once newsy press release will become old news.
Remember that journalists scan across dozens—sometimes even hundreds–of news pitches and press releases each day.
To avoid instant deletion, pitch something worth reading. Find your angle and go with it—but make sure that it’s interesting to more than you and your client. Appeal to your target audience, journalists and your reporters’ readers.
Alli Williams is a PR Coordinator at Amplify Relations, a full service public relations, government affairs, and advertising agency. Connect with the agency on Facebook and Twitter. A version of this article originally appeared on the agency’s blog.