5 public relations tips for getting news media coverage
As the demand intensifies to feed the hungry online beast, reporters have to work much faster and smarter.
The companies and public relations professionals who adapt to the changing media landscape by offering more to journalists are more likely to earn news coverage.
So more of what? What do reporters need these days, and how does it differ from a few years ago?
Here are five tips for updating your pitch to media outlets. Let’s call it ADCAP:
1. Approach: Most of the time reporters want the pitch by email, not a phone call. Sure, email lacks the back-and-forth and ability for a follow-up question and explanation allowed by a phone call. But emails don’t interrupt the constant web publishing deadlines, quickly can be reviewed or stored for later use, and can be forwarded to an editor for a thumbs up or down.
2. Details: Companies and PR folks oftentimes email a teaser pitch and tell reporters to call or email them back if they’re interested.
Now picture the journalist who needs to crank out some web story — any web story — within a few minutes, or before he or she heads home for the night after a long workday. The reporter has two pitches — one with everything and one that is a sketchy outline. The reporter will jump on the news release that’s ready to go, and put the sketchy one on a pile with hopes of getting to it the next day. But the next day, that pitch again goes up against a fully fleshed out news release. Before long, that pitch is too old.
What kind of details are we talking about? Let’s think in terms of a commercial real estate deal. Square feet of a new building, the date of the deal, names of the brokers, the company’s move-in date. If the terms of the deal, including price, were not disclosed, go ahead and say that the information wasn’t disclosed, because the reporter will have to ask.
3. Context: With many stories, it is the comparison that makes something newsworthy. A company is moving to 40,000 square feet? Maybe that is or isn’t a big deal. Reporters quickly can judge the significance if the pitch includes that the company is quadrupling its space. Or how about an example of a company that is hiring a dozen people. Say whether that’s the first new hires in five years, and provide the number of total employees from an earlier period. For a new contract, say whether it is the largest new contract in five years. For a new CEO, reporters will need to know the name of the previous CEO and the reasons for and the date of that departure.
4. Availability: It’s unfortunate that Americans are working at all hours of the day and night. That’s a discussion for another day. But as consumers of news demand 24/7 news online and reporters are working at all hours of the day, night and weekend to provide that content, journalists need to be able to reach companies and PR professionals beyond the hours of 8 a.m. and 5 p.m.
It’s quite likely that a reporter is reaching for the first time for one of those news releases at 6 or 7 at night to fill a daily story quota, and will need to clarify something or get a missing fact.
5. Photos and video: Yes, back in the old days of news — like a year or two ago — it was fine in a news release to tell reporters to call or email if they wanted a photo. Now that extra step of asking for a photo adds minutes that journalists can’t spare. Keep in mind what all media outlets know —a visual element with a story oftentimes makes the difference between a reader clicking on a story and ignoring a story.
Go ahead and provide the high-resolution photo with the pitch, as well as the credit and caption information. And make sure you own the photo and have the right to share it with the media outlet.
Are these tips helpful? What other insights would you like to hear from a working journalist?