The PR industry is enamored with social media as a means of communicating with key audiences and connecting with customers. Rightfully so, as it’s proven to be a successful way of connecting with key audiences and customers. Also interesting to note, more than 78 percent of consumers say that company-sponsored social media posts influence their purchases. As valuable as social engagement can be, we know that traditional media still matter. While organizations are increasingly seeking social support from agency partners, they are not decreasing their demands for broadcast and print coverage. And at the same time social is changing our industry, it is creating huge disruption in the media as well.
I recently had the opportunity to gain insight from top editors at publications including Marie Claire, Los Angeles Times, Family Circle, Fortune, The Guardian, Ms. Fitness, Barron’s, Essence, and the Huffington Post, about how their roles are changing in this new media landscape and how PR professionals can serve as valuable resources to them. Below are four tips straight from these editors about how we can improve our media relations efforts and better meet their editorial needs.
Circumvent the sea of pitches: Believe it or not, these editors said they rely on strong relationships with public relations professionals. Find a way to forge a personal connection—often times that means reaching out for the first time without a pitch. For example, nurture a relationship through personal or humorous interactions on Twitter leading up to your pitch. Show sincere interest in what they cover, and in turn, journalists will become more familiar with you. Some editors even suggested reaching out after hours. There is less incoming traffic and it’s outside of their peak writing/editing time. The key here is to back it up with substance by delivering information they actually need and can use.
Provide more multimedia content: The Chicago Sun-Times recently laid off its entire photography staff and trained reporters on how to shoot photos and videos on their iPhones. Why? It was part of a broader shift to focus more on video and digital multimedia. This provides an opening for PR professionals to give the media what they need, from video and audio to slideshows and infographics. Use SoundCloud to create shareable audio clips—this is perfect for capturing quotes or soundbites from events. For video, editors and reporters said they are turning to Tout.
Say it in three sentences: Cut to the chase. Editors want to know three things: why they (and their audience) should care, why it’s timely and what of real value you can offer. If you can do that in three sentences, you are much more likely to receive a favorable response. Don’t be afraid to tell the story, but be as concise as possible. Leave out flowery language and hyperbole.
If you can’t be in the news, make your own. This means one very important thing: know when not to pitch an idea and instead create and share your own content. Across the board, the editors emphasized how they are looking to fill more online space. Many said they are open to accepting guest article submissions or contributed blog posts. Take advantage of this opportunity! For example, convert a press release that won’t get much traction into a “How-to” piece. Many outlets now have a “contributors editor” or “blogs editor” dedicated to fielding these submissions. Check out a recent job posting for such position here.
The media landscape is evolving, but there is still an opportunity for journalists and PR professionals to have a symbiotic relationship. By thinking like a journalist, we will increase our chances of earned media coverage.
What other feedback have you received from the media lately? Leave us your thoughts below.