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Tips for Effective Media Relations

A couple weeks ago, I attended an informative PRSA Richmond workshop at VCU about how to capture a reporter’s attention and how thinking outside-of-the-box can be beneficial for securing media interest. With tips provided by Mary Ann Owens and Jeff South, two professors at VCU, this session covered new ways that PR pros are reaching out to reporters and how pitches have changed. The workshop offered a number of great insights to share. Check out some of the key takeaways: 

Grab Journalists’ Attention

Reporters cover three to four stories a day with constant deadlines. Their days are jam packed and many receive more than 100 emails a day just about story ideas. To stand apart, it’s essential to get to know reporters on a personal level. This is something that we believe is critical. Understanding a reporter’s interest and needs is critical.

How do you accomplish this task? Connect with and follow them on social media. See what types of stories they enjoy covering. Retweet and share their stories with your followers. Always a general rule of thumb is to become a valued resource, not a nag. What makes your story unique? How is your event different from previous years? 

Think Outside-the-Box When Pitching Stories

A recent trend in the PR profession has been connecting with reporters on Twitter to pitch story ideas. It depends on the reporter, but if he or she tweets regularly, then it may not be a bad idea to send them a direct message via Twitter. This takeaway also goes back to the idea of having a clear understanding of the reporter.

PR pros are also experimenting with more informal and personal subject lines in emails. For instance, instead of writing a subject line with “Story Idea” or “Pitch” in it, try something along the lines of “Interesting story about ________.”

Know the Newsroom

It’s vital to understand newsroom operations when reaching out to reporters. Most newsrooms have daily meetings first thing in the morning to plan the day’s coverage. It’s best to inform a reporter about a story idea in advance so he or she can mention the pitch in their daily meeting. If you call a newsroom, try not to call right before newscast airs.

As you’ve probably surmised from these takeaways, personalization is key to effective media relations. Hopefully these tips are helpful and, of course, don’t hesitate to contact us if you have any questions or need assistance.

As a communications specialist, Elyssa develops creative and strategic campaigns for clients. She is especially passionate about social media and loves to craft compelling content.