3 Ways To Help Journalists And Help Yourself In The Process – Part 1

Business woman being interviewed
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Anytime you seek to promote your brand through media coverage, you probably have a target audience in mind. If you’re a financial professional, that audience could be people in or near retirement. If you are a marriage counselor, it could be bickering couples.
But regardless of that ultimate audience, your first audience is always the editors, reporters, TV producers or others who receive your press release or pitch. If you don’t get their attention, everything else is irrelevant.
So, how do you do that these days, when some news agencies have cut staff, leaving the journalists who are still employed swamped with work?
Cision, a PR software and services provider, has unearthed a few clues. Cision recently released its 12th annual Global State of the Media report. From Feb. 1 to March 1 of this year, the company surveyed 2,700 journalists from 15 countries to gauge how their jobs have been changing and what folks on the PR side might do to improve our relationships with them.
That’s something we at News & Experts try to stay on top of. I’ve always said that in a sense we serve two sets of clients: those who hire us to promote them, of course, but also the media themselves. We discovered long ago that if you give the media what they want – focusing on their needs rather than your needs – your odds of PR success increase exponentially.
With that in mind, I thought it would be a good idea to share with you some of Cision’s suggestions for building better relationships with journalists, along with how we at News & Experts have routinely put these ideas into action. Next week, I’ll bring you more of the suggestions:
  • Do your homework – Many journalists report on specific topics. That could be high school sports, health, the environment, city government, education or a host of others. You may have a wonderful idea for an article about trends in plastic surgery, but the city government reporter is unlikely to care. You waste your time and the journalist’s time when you pitch a story idea that doesn’t fall within their beat. At News & Experts, when we pitch a client we compile a targeted list of journalists and publications whose readers are a match with our client’s targeted audience. As much as possible we want to filter out those less likely to write about the client’s topic. You, on the other hand, may just be trying to get into your local newspaper or a trade publication. If so, read the publication to see if you can discover who the appropriate writer is for your topic. If that fails, give the publication a call and ask. You don’t want to take the time and effort to write a great pitch only to have journalists on the other end click “delete” the moment it arrives in their in-boxes.
“Ninety-nine percent of those emailing me have never even read a story I wrote.” 
CISION-State of the Media Report
  • Be a trendspotter – Evergreen pitches are nice, but journalists also love it when your pitch ties into something current, so keep tabs on world events. Our team follows the news daily to see if anything is happening that relates to a client’s expertise. Is Congress planning to make changes to Social Security? A financial professional could comment on the repercussions to retirees. Did a new study show that the percentage of overweight Americans has grown? A nutritionist might provide dieting tips. Scour the news to see where you and your expertise could fit in.
  • Pitch at the right time – One interesting tidbit from the Cision survey involves not how to pitch to journalists, but when to pitch them. The majority (60.4 percent) chose Monday, the start of the work week before things get hectic, as the best day. As for time of day, 8 a.m. to noon looks the most promising. So, a pitch that arrives on Monday right around 10 a.m. might be the sweet spot. This doesn’t mean other days and times are bad, though. And if the pitch you wrote on Thursday is timely, you certainly aren’t going to hold off sending it until Monday. But if time is irrelevant, keep Monday mornings in mind.
With those shrinking staffs, journalists can use your assistance more than ever. If you let the right journalist know you are available to serve as a source in your area of expertise – and you even provide a story idea or two – you have a good chance of building a lasting relationship.
Both you and the journalist will benefit in the process.
Helpfully yours,
Marsha
P.S. If you want professional advice on getting the most out of your publicity efforts, give us a call at 727-443-7115 or simply reply to this email.
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