Recently, Michelle Jones and I held a media relations lunch and learn with our MarketWave colleagues. There, with the aid of some delicious “media” coffee cupcakes (in honor of National Coffee Day, what else?), we had a great discussion about best practices, tips and even funny anecdotes of our experiences pitching the media for various client stories.
But like everything, great coverage is often the result of great teamwork and an open channel of communication. As we’ve experienced here at MarketWave, anything is possible in terms of successful media relations with that combo. Here are a few tips we shared with the group that you may find helpful as you tell your company’s story:
- Know the reporter. Read their stories, know their beat, follow them on Twitter, and research what you can about them. You’re more likely to get coverage if your team knows what story ideas interest them and can provide a pitch with just the right ingredients. Once the reporter is interested in the story, it’s important to anticipate questions so the spokespeople can be prepared to answer everything fully.
- Tie the pitch to a trend. When story ideas fit into the context of a larger trend, that’s the sweet spot for reporters. Keep apprised of the latest news in your industry. Is this story idea a snapshot of an ongoing problem? Are things on the rise or decline? Find out how it fits into the scheme of things, and you’re more likely to get great coverage as a result. But on that note, keep it brief: reporters don’t want a book; they just want a hook.
- Include statistics. Almost all stories need some type of statistic to substantiate the idea. Include that information in a pitch, and it might just be just what the reporter needs. Also, anticipating the reporter’s needs shows your reliability as a source. And if you’re lucky, it might just pave the way for a professional relationship in the future.
- Be available. If you’re “on call” for a story, make sure you’re really “on call.” Imagine the reporter is ready to do your story today, and your spokesperson is on vacation in Hawaii. Not good, right? Be available, because the media likely won’t wait two weeks for another interview opportunity. Lack of spokespeople is the easiest way to get your pitch purged.
- Think like a reporter. If you were a reporter, what would make you want to cover this story? Exciting visuals or props? Groundbreaking statistics? A trend? Find the gaps in the pitch and fill them with relevant and useful content that turns your idea from pitched to published.
Bottom line: Everyone has a story, and yes – our job is to communicate that story in a compelling and meaningful way. But most of all, our job is to get someone to listen. What are some of your tips?
This is Part 1 of our Media Relations Recap. Stay tuned for Part II when Michelle Jones provides her own insight about reporter pet peeves.