When it comes to PR, there are a myriad of approaches to media relations. Your approach can determine whether you get “treats,” in the form of coverage—or “tricks,” in the form of no response—or maybe simply, “no.”
So, in the spirit of helping you get some “treats,” here are some simple Dos and Don’ts when it comes to media outreach:
DO provide valuable content: That includes offering customer references and including numbers, as in time or money saved, in your pitch.
DON’T forget to respond promptly when a deadline is involved: I stress this to clients—media opportunities are a “drop everything” kind of situation. You can’t wait until next week to respond, if the reporter has given you a deadline of tomorrow at noon.
DO follow up: One contact isn’t going to cut it when it comes to reaching to the media.
DON’T be a pest: Reporters generally prefer email to phone calls, which is good to keep in mind before you pick up the phone. On the other hand, there are situations when it’s appropriate to make the call.
DO proof your pitch before sending: Nothing will take you down faster than failing to proof (and proof again!) before you send your pitch. If it’s filled with misspelled words, grammatical errors and the like, no reporter will take you seriously. (I know, this seems like PR 101, but it can’t be overstated!)
DON’T forget that the media will want to know who your competition is: I’ve worked with companies who believe they have no competition. Trust me, if you tell reporters this, they may laugh in your face! AND, they’ll lump in with other companies, anyway, so it’s best to just map it out for them if asked.
DO be service-oriented: Be sure to offer your company as a resource for any upcoming stories that may be a fit. Then, be sure to provide anything they request in a timely fashion. I always look at it as if the reporters are my clients, as well, and treat them that way.
DO be respectful of their time: Reporters are busy people. If you’re lucky enough to get their ear (or eye, when it’s email), try to keep it brief and get to the point. Don’t prattle on about everything under the sun.
DO remember to thank them for their time: Always remember that the reporter’s time is valuable and thank him or her for it. And, if they do publish an article, it doesn’t hurt to send a note thanking them again.
DON’T forget that this is about relationship-building: Media relations, like a lot of other situations in life, is about building relationships. This means over time. Get to know them, and allow them to get to know you. Providing them with valuable news and information will go a long way toward building a lasting relationship.