This week, HB Agency announced its team will be showing journalists the love on Valentine’s Day with a #NoPitchDay. The goal? Give reporters a break from the incessant emails and phone calls.
But the truth is, if PR professionals are doing our jobs the right way, a #NoPitchDay wouldn’t be a gift to journalists. If we’re doing our jobs properly, our pitches are meaningful, targeted, and specific to each reporter. Actually helpful to them. The key to public relations is in the relationships that you build with journalists.
In honor of Valentine’s Day, and as a testament to our love for reporters, producers and assignment managers everywhere, we hereby make these vows:
1. We vow to do our research before we contact you
In the dating world, you often hear the cliché: There are plenty of fish in the sea. And then the romantics wonder, If there are so many fish in the sea, where’s my fish? The same can be said when searching for the appropriate media contact for a pitch. Every news organization has multiple reporters working to cover a multitude of stories, and there’s probably several folks under—for example—the business reporter umbrella.
As PR professionals, we promise to do our research. We owe you that. What topics have you covered lately? Have any of my clients’ competitors spoken with you previously? We commit to asking our colleagues for advice, to find out if they’ve worked with you, to get tips on the best approach. If we’ve done our homework, then maybe you won’t “swipe left” on our pitch.
2. We vow to make communication worthwhile and not to waste your time
Relationships are a two-way street. Ultimately in PR, our goal is to create a mutually beneficial relationship in which a story opportunity presents itself and you call us to share the good news. We promise that we will make sure all the important information is in the beginning of our pitch. We promise to not be afraid of the follow-up call, but also to respect your time as well. Each of us wants to stay on the other’s good side.
3. We vow to remember you are a Real Live Human Being
Yes, we’re representing a client. Yes, we’re talking about a product or what opinions our client can speak to. But you, as the journalist on the other end of the line, are a person, same as us. You’re busy; we know that. We also know that it doesn’t hurt to ask someone—from the Boston Globe, for example—how the snow is. And if you mention building snowmen with your kids last weekend, we promise to try to remember their names and ask after them the next time we call.
4. We vow to never take you for granted
We know that you are not just sitting around, hoping we call. You get hundreds of e-mails every day from public relations professionals just like us. Those folks are looking for reporters to do them a favor, to talk to their client or mention their client or attend an event and bring a camera crew along. And—in all honesty—we’re hoping for the same, but we know we’re lucky to be talking with you.
We promise to appreciate you and not to abuse our relationship. We will call and check in to see how you’re doing, how the conference went last month, or to congratulate you on a story well-done. We promise to send you a short e-mail, just to remind you that we’re here…if you need us. We promise to do our best to send great story ideas your way.
Let’s vow to show journalists the love not in quitting our pitching, but in thoughtful outreach.