Zoosk. Tinder. Match.
The internet has changed the world of dating as much as it has changed the world of media.
That said, when it comes to finding a media match—the process isn’t much different than what it was like three decades ago—research and relationship building are still key to finding the right mate.
Much of public relations work is behind the scenes. PR requires a lot of time, skill, luck, and effort to land coverage—and sometimes this all goes unseen.
In an effort to draw back the curtain of what it is we PR professionals do, I’d like to share some tidbits about our pitching game.
Finding your match.
Blind dates aren’t ever successful when it comes to trying to find the right media match. PR professionals must do their homework. So we search for outlets that are a good match for our client’s content and drill down further to find the right contact within that outlet. If a pitch isn’t relevant to what a journalist covers, it won’t get a second glance—and it may even burn a bridge.
We find matches through traditional keyword searches in Google, on media sites, and using our Cision database. We then read the journalist’s most recent work to get an idea of what they cover and the themes in their articles. Next, we look for ways our stories can supplement or expand on their subject matter. We also include why our stories are of interest or use to their audiences. (Thankfully, Weaving Influence has built many relationships over the years, so we’re already familiar with what might interest hundreds of reporters and editors and don’t have to start from scratch.)
Nailing the first impression.
Like with dating, both parties want to get something out of the relationship. Journalists don’t have any interest in giving free advertising. They want a good story. And they want to know it’s a good story right away. So, just like in a first date, a media pitch must put its best face forward.
So, we write pitches that are focused (getting through the 5 W’s immediately) and unique—showing what makes our client special and worth taking a second look at. We craft angles specific to the journalist’s interest where only our clients are experts, where our claims are often supported by stats and facts, and aim to tie content into popular themes and high-profile news events. At the heart of everything we write is the answer to “why you should care.”
Just like after a first date, there’s a fine line to walk to show that you’re serious without being annoying. It pays to be persistent—but to a point. We typically like to do a personal, friendly follow-up once or twice after the initial pitch. After all, there are times when journalists missed the pitch. By the second follow-up, if there is no response, that’s typically because they aren’t interested. Phone calls and excessive follows-up don’t remind journalists of a pitch—they remind them to avoid that person at all costs.
If a reporter is nice enough to tell us they aren’t interested, we usually like to ask what they are working on or might be looking for so we may be able to help them in the future.
Establishing the relationship.
After we’ve landed a media opportunity for our clients, we’re sure to follow back up with the contact, letting them know that we appreciated the story and will share through our channels—which we do! We also keep track of these relationships in spreadsheets for use in future pitching.
It would be fantastic if there was a Match-like service for media pitching and personnel. Until then, we search for our media mates the old-fashioned way.
Image Credit: karenr / 123RF Stock Photo
Whitney is the public relations director at WI. She started her career in communications as a TV news anchor/reporter in Virginia and Tennessee before switching to public relations. Whitney earned her bachelors in government at Georgetown University, and masters in PR from the University of Tennessee. She enjoys spending time with her family in Knoxville, TN, and running competitively.