Public relations isn’t rocket science, but there are a few things you can do to improve the odds of coverage. Sometimes even the pros forget to stick to the basics that work, and make shortcuts that hurt their results. Here are five things that should be done every time – whether you are an in-house PR liaison, or if you juggle multiple accounts for an agency.
1. Know the publication and editor/reporter you are pitching. Take time to read a few issues of the magazine, watch a few shows or listen to the radio. Understand the format of the publication or media channel, and be familiar with who their readers are. Look at the editorial calendar to be familiar with upcoming issue topics and see their demographics. This helps you be on target with your pitch, so the spin on your story fits their audience. It also ensures you don’t pitch a story on a topic they just ran. After all, timing is very important.
2. Pitch the right person. Sending your pitch to the wrong person – such as the health/beauty editor when your story is about lifestyle – can damage your credibility. You also can’t be sure the wrong contact will forward your pitch to the correct person, so the pitch could be lost entirely. If you are building a list of contacts that you will be pitching or sending press releases, it isn’t enough to add the publication to your list. You need to drill down and include the right person; not everyone you think might be appropriate, but the RIGHT person. Details matter.
3. Keep your pitch SHORT. Don’t send a novel that includes every detail you can think of. Keep it short, get to the point, then include links to more information. Include your idea, a reason why they should cover the story, why it is fun or meaningful to their audience, and what makes it worth reading/watching from the producers perspective. Put yourself in THEIR shoes.
4. If you are pitching TV, make it visual. Television is based on having something interesting to show visually – so your pitch should do the same. Frequently pitch someone as a TV guest? Include a link to past spots so the show producers can see how they are on the air, or even consider video to demonstrate how you (or your client) comes across. Include ideas in your pitch on what you have to offer visually – location, images, props, etc. Don’t just promote the product, but give them examples of what they could do with it on the air. They aren’t just looking for a talking head – they want someone that can DO SOMETHING. If you show them enough and they like the personality, they will find a way to use it.
5. Give them two or three ideas, not just one. If you give them several ideas, they are more likely to understand how they can use you. It also gets them thinking about you as a resource, instead of simply dismissing one idea that didn’t fit their need at the time. Be sure to include ideas that look ahead to topics looming on their editorial calendar – not only related to what they are working on at that moment. Editorial staff and producers always juggle multiple stories at once, and often think further ahead then you suspect. So THINK AHEAD.
Want more info on pitching? Check out these great resources: