Amy Stern - 07/26/2023
Like most industries, the world of public relations is continually evolving. From the shrinking number of news outlets to reductions in staff to the ongoing emergence of new technology and innovative platforms, public relations has seen many shifts over the past few years. Yet some basics still rule the roost when it comes to successfully securing publicity. In this blog, we’ll explore some tried and true insider secrets to PR and how to garner media placements.
Technology will continue to drive the future of PR, but don’t forget these two valuable tools
When it comes to the future of PR, I believe there are two essential ingredients that will remain essential to successfully securing media placement: personal relationships and the ability to clearly communicate the news value of your message. Regardless of new developments in technology, the ability to develop relationships with the reporters we pitch is essential. While it doesn’t mean you can’t be successful pitching a story to someone you’ve never worked with before, there is no substitute for honing the ability to develop media relationships based on mutual respect and a keen understanding of the outlet’s target audience.
As we speak, I can think of numerous such relationships, some over twenty years long and others more recent, that have led to high profile features on behalf of my clients, repeatedly. At the core, is not abusing the relationship, pitching only those stories that are applicable to the outlet’s readers, and not pitching every client and every story I have. As a result, these journalists know that when they see my email in their inboxes, I have something timely and relevant to say and that it will resonate with their readers or viewers. As for news value, the ability to convert brand-centric (or client-centric) messaging into educational insights and consumable content that truly informs, is the difference between having the media respond to your pitch or discard it as promotional fodder.
This trick to securing media coverage may surprise you
I still rely on phone communication. While my initial pitches are always via email, I still follow-up by telephone to select contacts and have found even in the year 2023, that some of my biggest media hits I’ve secured were the result of sharing details beyond which could be communicated by email. These conversations can also reveal other valuable insights like the arrival of a new anchor with interest in a specific topic, an upcoming news special that requires an industry expert, or a recently launched podcast in need of some fresh interview prospects. Remembering to ask about a sick pet or how the journalist was able to find a dress for their child’s recent nuptials only furthers the personal connection. For additional insights about the importance of relationship building, check out my previous blog on the topic.
The key to successful pitching
I always try to put myself in the shoes of the journalists I work with and think, “If I were representing this media outlet and received this pitch, how would I respond?” The true litmus test is pretending you are the journalist and asking yourself, “Why should I care?” I know this sounds a bit glib, but a truly good pitch that will generate results will be able to answer this question right away. There’s no doubt my primary loyalty is to my clients, but I think my ability to act as a matchmaker, serving up valuable insights and experts to journalists who are seeking to satisfy their audiences and understanding where my client’s products and/or services fit into the story being told is the secret to continued success.
Need a good barometer for how to determine what’s newsworthy? Consider these criteria.
The future of journalism and its impact on PR
I’m not sure any of us really know the answer, but in my 25-plus years in the field I think the reduction in the number of news outlets and the consolidation of their staffs has had a big impact on who and where we get our news from and the more this pool shrinks, the more the messaging will be controlled by a limited number of outlets.
Any publicist will attest to the fact that over the past several years, media outlets have relied more and more heavily on freelancers. This trend will continue, so it’s more important than ever to build connections with independent journalists, podcasters and other “new world” journalists who are no longer full-time staffers for a single outlet, but create content for multiple masters. Using tools like Qwoted and subscribing to Substacks can keep one abreast of breaking opportunities and build solid relationships with journalists that are just as valuable as those previously cultivated at a single media source.
The evolution of social media will continue to impact the way publicists do their jobs so publicists will need to remain vigilant regarding the introduction of new platforms and as always, assist our clients by evaluating those they need to be on and those they don’t. A communications strategy that harnesses the best of PR/media relations, social media, and content creation in an effort to maintain a steady flow client news will continue to inform the way we counsel our clients, aided by developments in technology that improve data collection so we can streamline how we target and to whom.
One rule of thumb I try to abide by is “Treat every journalist like you’d like to be treated” – respect them for the job they are trying to do and see how you can become a valuable resource that helps them do the job they’ve been asked to do: providing valuable content to their audience, regardless of if that audience is consuming content via print, digital or broadcast media. This mutual respect is what leads to long-lasting relationships and journalists returning to the well time and time again to connect with my clients.
To discuss how your organization can leverage these tricks to secure editorial coverage that helps achieve your business goals, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.