When it comes to spreading the word to get media coverage on your latest newsworthy report or industry event, you want to make the most of your public relations efforts: reaching as many potentially interested points of contact in the most efficient way possible. Here are five steps to take to help make that happen.
1. Plan strategically
Before you reach out to writers and reporters, take a step back and examine your goals and how they’ll align with folks you may reach out to: What do you hope to accomplish with media coverage? Who is the target audience for any articles that might be written? Will your outreach answer the key questions journalists will have (who, what, where, when, why and how)? Are you prepared for follow-up questions that may be challenging or controversial?
2. Develop a pitch
Once you’ve solidified details for whatever it is you’d like to gain media coverage, you can write your pitch. Essentially, this introduces your topic at hand with key details (answering those “key” questions above) and a clear call to action. Keep it short, easy to read and friendly.
Invite recipients to send any questions along and assure them that you’ll help accommodate their journalistic needs to get a story written (or maybe a broadcast interview secured). If you’re pitching an event and there’s any supporting documentation or follow-up information you can provide later, you can mention that in the pitch. This will let people know that they can still potentially cover the event without actually being there.
3. Cultivate a contact list
Do your research before you pitch so you know you’re spending time on those points of contact that are more likely to “bite” and take interest in what you have to say. Make a list of your ideal publications or broadcast coverage; then do a little more digging to find potential coverage that’s complementary and would reach your target audience.
From there, you’ll likely find specific media contacts that cover particular areas or “beats.” Make sure that you’ll be getting in touch with someone who’ll find your content relevant to them. At the very least, you’ll want to secure an email address. And make note of telephone numbers, if they’re available, so you can follow up by phone later.
4. Reach out
When you’ve finalized an initial contact list and pitch, you’re ready to reach out! If possible, personalize each email so your contacts feel unique – not as though you’re spamming them along with a bunch of other people. Consider your timing as well. Late Friday afternoon isn’t an ideal time to get in touch with folks, as they’re often trying to wrap things up before the weekend; you then run the risk of having your email buried under a mass of others to be trudged through Monday morning.
5. Follow up
Your job isn’t over once you pitch! Be sure to follow up with folks who didn’t respond at first and may need a nudge; send a reminder to contacts that plan to attend your event; and check in afterward to see if they need any additional information for an article. You may find, as I have, that many journalists do appreciate a follow-up email.
From planning to follow-ups, these steps can help you maximize your efficiency with the media pitching process. At its most effective, it can help you gain great coverage for your newsworthy item now – and build a solid foundation of media contacts for future coverage.
Photo courtesy Flickr user NS Newsflash