Pitch Perfect: Giving journalists the stories they really want
EMG’s PR professionals reveal some of our trade secrets for building strong media relationships that result in top tier coverage for clients.
Mutually beneficial relationships between PR professionals and journalists are the bedrock of any successful media campaign. They are the difference between generating mediocre results and outstanding coverage.
This has always been the case, but in an era when time is at a premium, digital correspondence is the default and content is often defined in terms of quantity rather than quality, it is becoming even more important - and more challenging - to cultivate these relationships.
Developed over time, our proprietary media databases are carefully nurtured and our team know the editors and journalists in our key sectors personally.
Our media team goes to great lengths to understand how they work and what they want from a good story. And they appreciate that. This is what gives us the edge when it comes to placing content, securing interviews and delivering results for our clients.
Here, our PR pros share some of their insider tips for building strong relationships with the media.
Know your client’s business inside out
A good pitch goes beyond the press release at hand. The best PR professionals know their client’s business and the key people within it, can talk about their solutions and products, and are able to field general questions without missing a step. It also helps if you know what plans and developments are on the horizon for your client to pave the way for future opportunities. If a journalist knows they can obtain knowledge from you (quickly and easily), they will make you their first port of call.
Know key publications - and read them
In a recent Cision survey of 2000 journalists, more than half said they received over 50 pitches a week, and that the vast majority of those pitches were completely wrong for their audience or the topics they cover. Make sure you are only pitching your stories to journalists who are likely to be interested and that you have a good understanding of the publication. EMG’s team always reads a journalist’s latest articles and are familiar with what was published in the most recent edition of the publication they are targeting.
Stay on top of trends
Being ‘in the know’ about market trends makes it possible to engage in intelligent conversations with journalists and builds your credibility. You don’t need to know the detail of every industry development, but you should be aware of overarching trends. In the automative industry, for example, e-mobility is a top trend, whilst in plastics and chemicals, ISCC PLUS certification, circularity and bio-based feedstocks are hot topics. Referencing industry-specific trends in the content you create and delivering stories with timely narratives will boost the chances of material being published.
Planning is everything: create a features pipeline
At the end of each year, we prepare an editorial strategy and features pipeline for every client as part of their annual planning. This helps to steer the direction of content and to identify key trends within the industry. It is also a starting point for conversations with journalists and means we can jump in early when we spot relevant opportunities for our clients.
Exceed their expectations on deadlines
Don’t give journalists the information you want to give them - give them the information they want to receive. Ask what they want and when they need it. It might sound simple, but just making exchanges efficient and easy by respecting deadlines and delivering content in the correct format with supporting images in the right resolution, increases your chances of coverage. Journalists are busy people who don’t have time to chase down critical details!
Keep communication personal
With so much going on, it can be tempting to shy away from phone conversations in favour of a quick email. Email is fine for a transactional exchange, but it is impersonal and one dimensional. Phone calls add a personal touch, but keep them concise as journalists are usually under time pressure. Ultimately, the strongest bonds are forged through face-to-face meetings. Trade shows are the ideal forum for cultivating relationships and our team maximises these opportunities - chatting to journalists in the press room, arranging press tours and setting up editor interviews for our clients.
Relationships are the key to securing coverage, but they are not something that you can force - only facilitate. Also, actual relationship building with editors takes years, and, like any other relationship in life, is built on mutual respect and trust.
We believe that our approach to engaging journalist should be as specialized as our clients are. If you agree, get in touch to see how EMG can boost your media strategy.
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