When I started out in PR, my focus was building relationships with the media who were mostly print journalists at newspapers and trade publications. As I found editorial success for my agency’s clients, I was able to branch out and pitch radio and television broadcast opportunities. In the late 1980s, the media was cut and dry. This is certainly not the case today. Yes, there is still print and broadcast media. However, there are online media outlets as well as bloggers and other influential individuals who have the ability to get consumers to act or behave a certain way.
However, what has really changed when it comes to building a relationship? You still have to get to know people; you have to become more personal with them to learn what they need from you. After all, back in the day, working with a newspaper reporter was completely different than coordinating with a radio show producer. It was my job to find out as much as I could about these media professionals and their media outlets.
What is it that makes any media professional want to work with you? Rather than take the perspective of the PR person of 25+ years, I’ve decided to approach the question as a blogger and podcaster. With people pitching me to guest post on PR Expanded, for me to cover their news, or to have their clients appear on my show, Women Worldwide, it’s great to share my thoughts having experienced both sides of the pitching process.
So, as a blogger for the past seven years and a podcaster more recently, here are my five tips for pitching success and how PR stands for “Personal” Relations:
- Know about me, but know more about my community. Social media gives us the ability to know a lot of information about a person. There have been times that I’ve been pitched and people know my background and even how much I love my dogs and that I have grown up kids. But, what really impresses me is when someone understands my mission for my blog or my podcast show; if they truly understand the pain points of my audience and what they’re interested in, then this really gets my attention.
- Be flexible in your pitch. You may have a very distinct idea of what you want to write about as a guest contributor to my blog, or perhaps what your executive might want to talk about on Women Worldwide. But, if you can send a pitch that shows you understand my community and you’re willing to work with me on different ways to develop an article angle or the line of questioning for a podcast interview, then you will most likely land the coverage for your company or client.
- Interact with me before “the ask.” Now, this isn’t always easy because in the scope of news and how it unfolds. You may not always have the opportunity to be an active participant in my communities before your breaking news announcement. However, every chance that you can get to know a journalist, blogger, podcaster, etc., is a great way to be recognized, by more than just your name alone. I tend to be more receptive to the PR folks who I see following me on Twitter and connecting on LinkedIn. Then, I may see them subscribe to my blog and interact as a member of my community. The name and the level of participation sticks in my mind, so that when you reach out I will feel like we’ve already connected, even if it’s only in a brief or simple way. But, having the initial interaction shows me that you’re doing some homework and want to build a relationship rather than just pitching to score some coverage quickly.
- Customize your approach. This is a no-brainer, but you’d be surprised at the number of form “emails” that I receive. I can tell that they go to me and 50+ other bloggers, mostly because they have my name wrong or the name of my blog incorrect. It’s a little more difficult to take the “mass” approach for my podcast show. Most of the pitches have been very targeted around women in business who have great stories to share or personal challenges and/or successes. However, when it comes to my blog, I see the most obscure pitches and a number of people asking to be guest contributors on the topics of business and finance, DIY crafts, cooking and travel.
- Don’t give up so easily. Have a pitch #2 in your back pocket. I don’t mind when I’m chatting with someone or even going back and forth through email and they offer a different story option, if the first doesn’t resonate. One, it shows they are thinking and they really want to share information through my community because they feel it would be beneficial. And, two, it also shows you really want to work with me. So, if pitch #1 doesn’t work, have pitch option #2 ready. After all, you’re in PR and sometimes the “P” stands for “Perseverance” and “Patience.”
There are other tips to get personal with the media. Whether you’re a media person or a PR professional, please weigh in with your best advice. And, if you want to learn more about how to pitch to build relationships, I’m moderating a Marketwired webinar on March 30th called “PR Pitching for Smarties.” Hope to “see” you on the 30th for more lively discussion about pitching and relationship building.