A job in PR is one of early days, late nights and many cups of coffee. Crazy clients, insane deadlines and bags under your eyes are all a part of the job. While there’s not much we can do about that, there is one thing we can do …

media update’s Aisling McCarthy can offer some advice that will help to grow your media relationships and get your content published more frequently.

Sounds great, right? Well, it’s the least we could do. So without further ado, let’s get down to it.

Dear PR pro, journalists want you to know that:

1. Personalised pitches do better than unpersonalised ones (without fail)  

While it's quicker to put together your press release with a generic introduction and send it to all your media contacts, the chances of a response aren’t that great.

Personalising every email you send to each of your media contacts will make the journalist feel like you actually care about your interaction with them. And when you’ve put time and effort into your communion with a journalist, they’ll be more willing to respond to you.

Remember that your email pitching ‘the most incredible brand ever’ is one of 50 that a journalist receives in a day. So take the time to understand a few things about each of your media contacts.

  • What is the journalist’s name?
  • What is the focus of the publication they write for?
  • Is your client offering something that would be of interest to the publication’s audience?
  • Does the angle of your email highlight how/why your client’s offering would be interesting for the publication’s audience?

2. Fluff disguised as news isn’t news – and we know it  

“Hey there! We’re this super cool brand and we’re doing this really cool thing. Pretty please write about it.”

Sounds like a joke, right? Without a doubt, every journalist out there can say they’ve received many PR pitches that look like this.

After years of practising pitching story ideas to editors, journalists have learned to understand where the news is. And they know exactly what kind of news will get a brief mention as opposed to what will make headlines.

It’s that eye for genuine news that makes for a successful journalist, and it can make you a success in PR, too. You should borrow this skill and work out how your client’s PR message fits into a bigger trend story – without making it sound forced.

Keep in mind that what constitutes news can differ from one publication to the next, based on its area of focus. Spending some time researching what areas certain publications focus on will allow you to pitch a press release that fits into the publication’s style. It might even spark a new, genuine news story for the publication.

Remember that press releases are only likely to be published when they have something to say. Find the news angle of your press release and focus on it!

Also, remember that journalists are trained to write clear content based on facts. So you won’t be doing yourself any favors by embellishing your content with beautiful adjectives and poetic musings. By sticking to the facts, you’ll see your press releases shared more often.

3. If you make your content hard to publish, we won’t publish it

Keep in mind that a journalist doesn’t have to open your press release. So if they do, make their job as easy as possible.

Ensure you send everything the journalist might need, all at once. If they have to keep asking you to clarify details or send images, they won’t be too keen to work with you in the future.

Make sure every person quoted in your press release is named and that it includes their title and the company they work for.

Don’t send your press releases as a PDF. Journalists and editors will have to adjust your content to suit their style, and by sending an un-editable PDF file, you are asking for it not to be published.

And if you’re not sure what the journalist needs to publish the content, just ask! Once they’ve told you what they need, don’t be surprised if they don’t publish your content when you don’t give them everything they have asked for.

4. Just like you, we hate having our time wasted

We know you’re busy ... but so are we.

Many PR professionals will email a press release to a journalist, and before it has even had a chance to reach their inbox, the phone rings and the PR person asks when the release is going to be published.

If the journalist hasn’t had a chance to even review the content, chances are they will just be annoyed by your call. Journalists are always busy and while you may have only sent one press release today, the journalist has received 50. Along with 50 phone calls from PR professionals demanding to know when their content will be published.

Before you pick up the phone to find out IF (never ‘when’) your press release is going to be published, ensure that you have sent content that is relevant to the publication and that you have included everything the journalist may need to publish it.

Make sure to include:
  • A pitch personalised to the journalist and publication
  • A press release in a format that can be edited
  • An image or images in the orientation they use – when in doubt, send one portrait and one landscape
  • Links to your client’s website and social media pages
Is there anything other advice that you, as the PR pro would like from journalists? Let us know in the comments section below.

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Although you may think you’ve come across just about every term there is to know, it’s always helpful to brush up on your knowledge. Take a look at The PR pocket dictionary: 15 Terms you need to know.
*Image courtesy of Vecteezy