Take A Walk In Their Shoes

As PR professionals, we are constantly pursuing media coverage for our clients, and part of being an effective media relations practitioner entails putting yourself in the media’s shoes. First things first: What is the difference between a press release and a pitch? A press release is essentially you already writing a story for the media. A pitch entices someone else to write the story. If you’ve decided that a pitch is the way to go, you need to ask yourself a few basic questions and do some background research before you get started.
  • Prepare what you will and will not answer
  • Have all of the basic and background info prepared, along with visuals
  • Look for an expert who will speak on camera
  • Make sure you answer the five basic Ws: who, what, where, when and why.
  Then, start making some phone calls! And keep in mind these basic questions:

“Would I want to talk to myself?”

“Would I have answered that email?”

“Would I take the time to read that story?”

Honey Boo Boo Hello

That’s when you think like a journalist! What is the story? What will go into the two-minute segment? What is going to be the headline? What about stills? Coverage? People? Don’t forget about footage. Most importantly, what is important to us? When pitching to local media, you particularly need to do your research, know who to call and then individualize your pitch and email. To successfully pitch, there are a few things you can do as a PR pro to land in the good graces of the media. These little gestures make a huge impact on your relationship with the media and they will remember you for that.
  • Pick up the phone and follow through
  • Pitch the reporter instead of going directly to their assignment desk
  • Give out the information you need for your message
  • Explain why you can’t give out certain details when you can’t
  • Don’t insult the reporter’s intelligence
  All that being said – you can follow all of these guidelines and still be unsuccessful.  Don’t take it too personally. Sometimes, it’s just the story, and if doesn’t interest the reporter, it won’t interest the editor or the audience. Media relations is all about relationships, and building genuine, reciprocal relationships take time and effort - you get out what you put in.

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