It’s long been said that public relations media outreach is an art, not a science. But getting the attention of a media target for a client’s pitch is, in fact, both an art and a science. The reason may sound simple: The most effective pitches are not always formulaic but require some creative thinking. And that’s where the art comes in, because what compels one editor may not resonate the same way with others.
Yet, there is a place for a formulaic approach. In our experience, the majority of successful public relations media outreach strategies have four components: a strong relationship with the media contact, the quality of the pitch, newsworthiness and the pitch brevity.
Below are 4 creative ways to re-think your public relations media outreach, starting with the pitch.
Make the uninteresting interesting! If you’re challenged with pitching a mundane announcement, you might want to consider including additional newsworthy elements. For example, pitches don’t always have to be about the announcement itself but can focus on what will happen as a result.
- What’s the current news surrounding this topic? Pick one angle that connects to your pitch.
- Does this announcement go against any trends? Maybe your pitch is announcing a new trend.
- Is there any significant upcoming event that can be tied into your announcement?
Pitch People, Not an Institution. Editors at seldom interested in X company that received a high customer service score, reached its ten-year anniversary or had some other milestone that may seem important internally. What reporters do care about is how the company got there, who made it happen and who else will be affected.
Your source for these otherwise mundane announcements might include celebrities, customers, suppliers, vendors, industry groups and industry thought leaders. And when offering these sources, keep in mind that journalists tend to evaluate sources based on:
- Credentials: what are their qualifications?
- Content: what will the source say?
- Clarity: how will the source say it?
- Convenience: how easy will it be to reach them?
Help Reporters to Help You. One way we can help out reporters these days is by sending news tips that are aligned with their coverage. In the pitches you write to your top media targets, it’s a good idea to adjust the writing style to match that of the reporter’s. This makes it easier for them visualize your pitch as their own story. And to give them no reason to ignore you, provide everything they would need to write the story including images, quotes, graphs, backlinks, and other relevant information.
Brevity is Key. These days reporters are overwhelmed with the 24-hour news cycle and keeping an eye out for scoops on social media. One of the most important things about today’s successful pitches is brevity. That means, ideally, a pitch is around 150 words (there are exceptions). A good rule of thumb is that reporters should see the end of your email when they open it. If they have to scroll, it’s probably too long!
Keep in mind:
- Omit proper nouns unless they propel news value
- Resist the temptation to introduce yourself and your organization
- If your pitch is longer than 150 words and the extra content isn’t newsworthy, it can be left out
With reporters receiving more pitches on a daily basis than ever, it has become increasingly difficult for PR pros to stand out in a crowded inbox. While rethinking your approach to public relations media outreach is an adjustment and takes practice, these small changes can pay dividends in the end.