It’s no myth that public relations professionals and the news media have long had a love-hate relationship. While sharing a common goal to tell a good story, they’re not always on the same page when it comes to what a good story is.
Navigating the media landscape can be difficult, especially if you’re unfamiliar with how news organizations work. As you’re developing a pitch, here are some things you may want to consider:
- What’s your hook? Journalists want something they can grab onto, so give them a reason to be interested. Ask yourself, ‘What makes this product, service, business, event, person, etc., noteworthy?’ Is it new or part of a trend? Does it have some impact on society or industry? Is there a human-interest aspect? Reporters, editors and producers want compelling content that will not only inform but add value. Anything can be news. But not everything is newsworthy. Your pitch needs to have an angle that’s interesting and relevant, if not timely.
- Who is your target audience? Identifying who you want to reach can go a long way toward getting the best media placement. Some stories lend themselves to a specific section of a newspaper, television segment or magazine than others. This is why developing the right “hook” is so important. It can help you connect with the right person. Some journalists (be sure to read their work) cover specific beats. Save yourself time and effort by knowing in advance if your client news will be considered. Keep in mind not just the topic but audience demographic and geography.
- How can you make it easier? Get to the point quickly. Media folks are bombarded with requests daily, so if you’re sending an email, don’t write a novel. Follow up but don’t spam. Be prepared to answer questions (who, what, when, where, why) as well as to provide interviews and other multimedia assets like photography and video. Keep in mind they’re working on deadline, so don’t dawdle.
Carly Harrington is a seasoned journalist, who spent nearly 20 years working at newspapers. She recently joined Fletcher as director of branded content.