By Jason Ledder
Media Department Group Head
As a public relations expert with 15 years of experience, I have seen media relations strategies executed extraordinarily well by my peers, but at times I have also seen many professionals pitching in an unstructured, haphazard way, pushing too hard and doing anything to simply get a hit. If this sounds familiar, take the time to think about adding value to your pitches and framing them in a more meaningful way.
If you get a quick hit to satisfy a client today but burn a bridge by being pushy or rude, where is the value? A strong media relations professional can build lifelong relationships with their contacts. By demonstrating real value to journalists and becoming a trusted source, you will develop truly strong relationships that will be the best tool in your professional arsenal, and ultimately help you consistently deliver exceptional media coverage for your clients.
So how do you do it? Well, do you like getting phone calls at dinner from someone trying to sell you a subscription, or your alma mater contacting you for donations while you are still paying off your student loans? Probably not. The key to building a long-lasting relationship is understanding and respecting what your contacts are going through, personally and professionally. With the changing pace of the news cycle, skeleton staffs and razor thin budgets, the media is under more pressure than ever to deliver timely content.
I always encourage my team to think about several things before they begin a pitch:
– Do we have a real story to tell?
– Will this call or email make the reporter’s life easier or harder?
– When do they put the publication or show to bed, and will they be on a deadline?
– Are we providing them with a complete story – one that their readers or viewers will value – or shamelessly pitching a product or service?
– Why does their audience care about your client, product or service?
Yesterday I had the opportunity to hold a series of informal media meetings, my favorite tactic for catching up with my closer friends in the media. Together with a colleague, we knew which pitches and stories we needed to sell, but because of our previously developed, meaningful relationships, we didn’t go in with a formalized agenda. Instead, over a cup of coffee, we caught up on their personal lives, listened to them vent about their workloads and discussed our clients’ industries from a broader perspective. From there, we collectively found ways to insert our clients into the journalists’ coverage.
As a result, the stories will be larger, more influential trend pieces, and in the end, our clients will win. We didn’t over sell. We didn’t over promise. And we did what we said we would: we got them the information they wanted, when they wanted it and how they wanted it.
Nobody likes pushy salespeople. Instead, separate yourself from the pack by delivering value-packed, noteworthy pitches that demonstrate your expertise in the industry and understanding of what the media wants.