2015 January

Adding Value to Your Pitching Strategies

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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.

The Relationships of PR

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By Kristie Galvani

Vice President, Corporate Communications

Public relations is an industry in constant transformation: increasing social media demands, expanding digital outlets and ever-shrinking newsrooms. But regardless of the current state of the industry, one aspect will never change: building and maintaining excellent relationships with both clients and media remains the key to a solid foundation in public relations.

Besides being creative, strategic, a good writer, detail oriented and persistent, most importantly, you need to recognize how to build and maintain strong relationships. Here are three tips to help you build meaningful connections.

  1. UNDERSTAND YOUR SUBJECT

One of the most crucial components in public relations is understanding your customer and their public relations goals. Understanding their needs will allow you to communicate to the right media with the right message.

When it comes to the media, you also need to have a solid understanding of who they are: what they write, their contact preferences, when and how they liked to be pitched, etc. Taking the time to do your homework and building a firm understanding will help maximize results.

  1. MAINTAIN CONSISTENT COMMUNICATION

Maintaining consistent communication with your clients and becoming part of their team will help you achieve the results you desire. One of the things I hear from clients that have been unhappy with public relations is that they don’t understand what is being done or what the results really are. This is the result of a lack of communication. Make sure to always let clients know what you are spending your time on and what results are being achieved.

It also is important to communicate with the media and remind them you are available as a resource. One of my favorite ways to do this is to send the reporter a message or a tweet to let them know that I have enjoyed something they have written.

  1. ALWAYS BE RESPONSIVE

Clients appreciate responsiveness. It is always important to make sure that clients have no reason to doubt your reliability. You want them to be able to count on you as an important member of their team and to be available whenever needed. You should answer them as quickly as possible and continually let them know where different tasks and strategies stand. I believe it is a good practice to talk with your clients at least once a week and if possible schedule face-to-face meetings at least once a month.

Responsiveness can be even more important when it comes to media. The old saying “the early bird gets the worm” can definitely come into play with the media. When a reporter or producer needs something, they generally need it quickly, and if you don’t respond in a timely fashion they will move on to the next resource. Make sure the media has all the ways to contact you: email, office phone, mobile phone, Twitter handle, etc.

These are just three key suggestions for building and maintaining relationships. Remember, relationships with your clients and your media contacts should be developed just as any other relationship in your life – with trust, respect, and honesty. Building strong media connections and developing long-lasting relationships with clients will help you succeed even during the constant changes in the public relations environment.