Pitch and Release: PR Basics in the Digital World
Public relations and media pitching has changed.
That’s the understatement of the week. I often have conversations with clients and prospects about how they can get into the media. First, the media is not just newspapers and magazines and TV and radio. It’s websites and blogs and web TV talk shows, and online event listings, and awards, and social media feeds. The days of “getting my product on Oprah” are long gone.
Are you making the right kind of noise? Or just irritating the media?
Journalists have changed. One of the publications quoted in this article states that the average age of its editors is 27.
Journalism has become highly interactive, as a result of technology. Now, when a reporter is looking for sources for a story, he or she simply posts on ProfNet or HARO. When “news” appears online, readers are urged to weigh-in, helping to create the story.
Journalism is now a steady feed. Because so many publications are online, the notion of a “deadline” only applies to print media most of the time. Websites and e-magazines are constantly updating their content.
Media is now highly visual. In the “old days,” you only had to think about camera-worthy segments when you were preparing for a TV pitch. Now, because the web is filled with photos, video, infographics, and lots of things that move, PR professionals need to think harder about making their stories colorful (literally and metaphorically).
Although having a strong “pitch” to a journalist (a short, compelling note to the right editor or writer) to interest him in a story was always important, it has become even more critical. Why? Because these new, young (and old), super-busy journalists have no time to read and process information. I write myself for several publications. I scan e-mail notes quickly and decide almost immediately whether to pitch or peruse.
I’ve gotten my company and my clients into major media outlets in the past few years (Forbes, American Express Open, and others) simply by writing a great subject line and 3-5 bullets.
According to my Ilana Zalika of Resound Marketing, my “partner” in PR pitching, “Real coverage comes from those direct pitches — telling a great story to the right contact in the right way.” As we see the media world heading, the traditional press release is mainly good for:
- Background information for the journalist writing the story.
- Search Engine Optimization and Google Cred.
- Posting on “the wire.” Wire services provide a way to get news out to large lists of journalists. Although they don’t usually result in stories being written, they help with SEO.
- Posting on a client’s website.
PR these days has always been about the pitch…but now more than ever before. So, if you want to be in the news:
- Be newsworthy. (You still have to answer the question, “If the journalist is getting 1000 of these in his in-box today, what makes mine compelling?”)
- Be mindful of what your prospects actually read. Quality is better than quantity when it comes of PR. You may get a great ego rush if you see your news all over the web, but having it read by real people who might use your product or service (or fund your business) is real PR nirvana.
- Be pithy.
- Be graphic.
- Be fast. If you don’t get back to a journalist immediately, he will move on. We’re living in that kind of news world.
- Be credible and helpful. If a journalist thinks you’re a great source of ongoing news, he’ll come back for more! That’s one thing that hasn’t changed!
- Be a little boastful. Share your news once it’s published by the media. Re-post the hell out of it on social media, your website, to your employees, and even in your signature.
- Be prepared for “post-PR depression.” After that great rush of seeing your company’s name (or yours) in print or on the screen, you may be disappointed that it doesn’t necessarily result in sales. Remember that PR builds credibility and awareness, but it doesn’t necessarily sell things. Only you can do that.