A media relations strategy is a core piece of the public relations puzzle. It takes expertise, methodology and like many skill sets, the more you engage with the media, the more lesson-learned you acquire along the way. When thinking through the practice of media relations, I sometimes try to equate it to everyday life. Often times, I come back to the parallel of how in a lot of ways a media relations strategy is like fishing. Many may say fishing is based on luck, but there is a reason the professionals are able to reel in the big fish on a consistent basis.
Grab your fishing rod and bait, below I’ve outlined six reasons why:
Finding the Perfect Fishing Spot: Not every announcement or trend story idea is a good fit for every outlet. It’s important to understand the demographics of the publication you are targeting. What is interesting to a local newspaper might not be interesting to the New York Times. Tailor your pitch to publications appropriately. For example, mainstream and trade publications require different strategies to garner attention, just like fishing in salt water and fresh water require different strategies.
It Takes the Right Bait: So you’ve found your fishing spot, now you need to determine what type of fish you want to catch. Not all reporters are going to bite on the same story. When reaching out to the media, it’s important to have a clear picture on the topics that they cover and even how often they are likely to write about said topic. Due your diligence and research a reporter before reaching out to them. Read through their bio and recent articles. Even check out their social media profiles to see what interests them.
Know the Ideal Time of Day: Understanding a reporter’s editorial schedule is also important. What are the deadlines that a reporter is working against? If a reporter normally has to turn in their stories at 11:00 a.m. on Thursday that is probably not the ideal time to contact them and pitch them a new story idea. In fact, contacting the media at the wrong time can ultimately damage a relationship. Just like fish, there are certain times of the day that reporters are more active or less active.
Cast a Wide Net: Don’t limit yourself to one industry or select publications, get creative and think outside-the-box. Maybe there is a hot trend that the media is jumping on and this presents the perfect opportunity to offer industry insight. Or, maybe there are certain audiences in another industry that you can target, which opens up new publications to target. Don’t just be satisfied with the status quo.
Don’t Throw in the Rod: There are going be occasions when your story idea to the media just falls flat – but that does not mean that you should give up. If a reporter gives you the opening upon saying “no,” find out what peaks their interest or dig a little deeper into what they are currently working on. You never know where you might be able to serve as a resource.
Come Back for More: Just because a reporter does not bite on a certain pitch initially, does not mean that you can’t follow-up. Give it a few business days and then touch base with them on the idea. The key is to not become a nuisance and completely scare them off. On the other hand, if you’ve found a strategy and spot that has been proven successful, don’t be afraid to go back for more.