How PR Pros Can Help Reporters and Themselves
Jul 03, 2018
This is not your grandmother’s newspaper
There’s no doubt that the media landscape is changing. Not only do journalists face extensive political scrutiny, media outlets across the country are burdened with financial constraints as the publication model evolves. Newsrooms now operate with a far smaller roster of journalists than in the past and every reporter is expected to be a photographer, social media whiz and sometimes even videographer too in order to produce content with fewer resources.
We’ve seen the effect of this evolving landscape right here in Colorado. The Denver Post began charging for online access early this year and laid off an unprecedented number of journalists in the spring. Some of these former Denver Post employees will launch a new blockchain funded outlet, The Colorado Sun, later this month.
The new role of the public relations professional
With fewer reporters to pitch and the existing ones stretched thin and facing extreme demands, to ensure coverage it’s more important than ever that public relations professionals in Denver and around the country serve as a resource to journalists.
Here are four tips to help your story get picked up while building strong relationships with reporters.
Make sure the story is newsworthy
As a public relations firm, we understand that every new development within your company feels monumental. However, the same cannot be said for the general public.
If you want to make a reporter’s job easier and ensure you get coverage, wait until you have a truly newsworthy story before sending that email pitch. If you don’t have a newsworthy story to share right now, consider searching editorial calendars to see if a publication is already working on a piece that encompasses your industry or product and reach out to see if the journalist is interested in learning more.
Know the journalist’s audience
One of the most common complaints we hear from journalists is that PR professionals send them untargeted, irrelevant pitches. Before sending out a pitch, take time to build a media list filled with reporters who are likely to take interest in your story.
You can start by taking a few minutes to read their recent articles, checking out the type of content they post on social media and developing an understanding of their niche. Next comes the hard part: tailoring your pitch accordingly. Helping a journalist understand how your story fits in to their beat and why they should cover it will help you stand out amid a sea of mistargeted pitches. Consider relating your news to a past story the reporter has covered. You might also consider offering a fresh angle on a topic they frequently cover or highlighting why their audience would be interested in your story.
Check, double check and check again
When you’re finally ready to send your news release, it’s critical to make sure that the content is in excellent shape to make it as easy as possible for a reporter to cover your story if they are interested.
Becoming familiar with AP style and always following the guidelines will make it simple for journalists to repurpose content from your release into an article without substantial editing. Before sending a pitch, confirm that all of the details are accurate and that you have properly cited all sources. There’s nothing more embarrassing than distributing a release with a typo, so have a colleague serve as an editor to catch any mistakes before you hit send!
Be the town crier
Corporations own major newspapers in Denver and around the country, meaning journalists are now forced to measure the success of stories based on the number of clicks and shares. When a journalist picks up your story, help them achieve strong metrics by sharing the story near and far.
Have you posted the link on social media and encouraged your followers to read the article and share it? Great job! Pro tip: Be sure to take the time to find and tag the journalist and news outlet in your post and thank them for covering the story. Is the press hit included in your organization’s newsletter? Have you considered writing a blog to share the story behind the story? Nice work, you’re on your way to building a strong relationship with the reporter by showing them that you’ll be an active partner in promoting their work!
The bottom line
Having an awareness of the challenges media professionals are facing in the current climate and tailoring your public relations efforts accordingly will help you build mutually beneficial working relationships with journalists and increase your odds of earning coverage.
If you’re curious about other ways your organization can earn media coverage and increase your brand awareness through media relations, contact us.
Caty Carrico is an award-winning social media strategist and public relations practitioner at Pushkin Public Relations, a Denver-based PR firm. Her expertise lies in helping brands identify their distinct social media persona and crafting communications strategies that engage target audiences. In her spare time, she can be found eating her way through Denver's restaurant scene or working on her latest DIY project.