You may have the best news story in the world, but what many PR professionals may not realise is that their approach to contacting the media determines just how much headline news they generate.
Before picking up the telephone to share their story with a journalist, it’s essential PRs take the time to consider who it is they are actually contacting and how their working environment has, like many professions, significantly evolved in recent years.
Here are five things we think every good PR practitioner should consider before contacting a journalist:
- They have less time than ever before – so make sure you keep your conversation concise and to the point! The consolidation of titles and downsizing of news teams in recent years has generally resulted in smaller news teams now covering much wider news patches. This, coupled with journalists now being able to break their next story online, has created a role where time is clearly precious, and, of the essence.
- The days of predictable, set deadlines are long gone... – 24-hour news means news breaks every second of the day. Most journalists write stories for websites as well as for good, old-fashioned print media.
- Patience is not a natural journalistic trait – many reporters, especially Editors, are under immense pressure to file their next story. They have extremely limited time for waffle and pleasantries, especially ones that aren’t sincere so, make sure you are clear about the angle of your news story and why it should be of interest to their readers/listeners/viewers. It’s also best practice to make sure you are targeting the right reporter with your story, there’s little point pitching an education story to a business correspondent or a health feature to a science specialist!
- Message overload – building and maintaining good working relationships with the reporters you are targeting is key to securing quality media coverage. Sending your story via email is absolutely fine, but remember, the average national correspondent has more than 300 emails or ‘potential stories’ waiting for them in their inboxes when they arrive in the office. It’s always better to speak to a journalist first rather than just pressing send, crossing your fingers and hoping your story will somehow stand out from the crowd.
- Journalists can sniff out the facts – journalists love facts and instinctively know if you haven’t done your research properly or do not have the details to back up your claims. Make sure your figures add up, your information is credible and most importantly, that you fully understand it enough to withstand a grilling from any journalist!
We hope you find these tips as useful to read as our PR team found enjoyable to write! This is purely a brief guide and is not an exhaustive list. Feel free to pick and choose and apply the tips as you see fit.