For PR pros, figuring out the perfect story and how to tailor it to the media is a never-ending struggle.
It’s important to help clients build credibility and gain exposure while also providing a valuable service for journalists. The trick lies is finding the right way to effectively reach out to journalists.
As we continue pitching in 2016, the process of crafting and selling successful PR pitches will evolve. PR pitches moving forward will likely be more social media oriented, more personalized and more focused on connecting with journalists.
PR’s new “sharing economy”
Editors will care more about article shares than they have in the past, mostly because more media companies are paying attention to tracking content and analytics. Journalists today don’t just want great story ideas—everything they write is being measured for social media lift—so they want shareable stories. The more their stories are shared, the more website traffic for their publication and the more they’ll come back to you for commentary.
Social media is becoming the front-page of American news media. According to the Pew Research Center, as of 2014, 30 percent of Americans reported getting their news from Facebook, 10 percent from YouTube and 8 percent were looking to Twitter. Keep this in mind when you pitch: Come up with a plan for sharing the story. Don’t be afraid to share your strategy with the reporter during the pitch or after the story posts.
Part of the value that PR can people provide, is assisting journalists in the effort to share or spread stories across social media. It should be viewed as a team effort.
Dig deep with social
Not long ago, most PR pitches were focused on sending a pitch email—writing a compelling subject line and crafting a few concise pitch paragraphs. Social media was an afterthought.
In 2016 though, your pitch process should start with social media. There are a variety of tools and resources available now to help you research journalists and their interests in order to make informed decisions on how to most effectively reach out to them.
When reaching out, you’ll want to go beyond the usual social channels and dig deeper into your professional network of LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter connections. Build up your insights about reporters and build relationships with them via social media in tandem with the pitch. Once you have a dialogue going, make your pitch. Instead of relying only on email pitches, start by commenting on a blog post, then by following up on social media. Reach out directly in that process.
Ideally, your pitch should be a natural progression of the outreach and conversations that you’re already having with the journalist on social media.
The pitch is now going beyond simple text in order to be more eye-catching and visually impactful. Think in terms of video, prominent photos, colorful illustrations, infographics and humorous memes if you’re thinking of starting to use more creative visual content in your story pitches.
It’s fine to get creative with what’s included in your story pitch, but be careful not to bombard journalists with too much content at once. Around 58 percent of journalists say that the ideal length of a pitch email is two or three paragraphs. Whether you’re sending out a short video clip or a bold infographic, make sure that it’s concise. Try not to send attachments—this way your email doesn’t get dumped into spam. Create links that lead to all your assets within the email text. RELATED: How to create a consistent message across multiple internal platforms.
Tie it all together
Journalists are busier and more bombarded with pitches nowadays, so it’s important to make their lives easier if you want your pitch to get noticed. Make sure your pitch does not require the journalist to chase down the loose ends of your story ideas. Your pitches should be detailed, well organized and loaded with the necessary information. When sending a pitch email, link together elements from the list below:
· Previous articles that the reporter wrote that are relevant to your key trend or story idea
· Your vision for the story
· Why your story matters to the their readers
- Facts and stats
· If submitting an article, just include it
· Offer up statements and quotes so they can grab the content and run with it—many journalists don’t have time to interview
· What impact it may have to the market as a whole—including thought leaders and influencer quotes. Maybe even offer a series
PR pitches are an evolving process and as reaching the media becomes more complex, it is important to note that the concept of a “separate pitch” is becoming dated. Instead, work on piecing your pitch into an ongoing dialogue or relationship with the journalist you are connected to.
Making a good PR pitch moving forward will be less about writing a cleverly worded email or grabbing a reporter’s attention on a one-time basis. Instead, it’s become more a matter of making sure your clients are relevant to the ongoing conversation that affects their industry and reputation.
Juliet Travis is the founder and Principal of Travis Communications, a Bay Area-based digital communications PR agency. A version of this article originally appeared on Muck Rack, a service that enables you to find journalists to pitch, build media lists, get press alerts and create coverage reports with social media data.