I always find it fascinating when I stumble across articles with headlines that call for drastic changes in how we execute strong media relations campaigns. This call for change may make a great headline, but it doesn’t always generate strong results. Sure, constant changes in the media landscape require us to look at challenges from a fresh perspective, but the truth is the core elements of media relations just don’t change. It’s important that we don’t forget to apply the fundamentals of the craft.
I don’t care if you’re pitching a story in 2016 or 1986; good stories always sell. Over the course of 25 years, I’ve had the opportunity to pitch some really great stories and the results are always stronger than those that are not. The true master of media relations understands that crafting elements of the client’s story into a dynamic piece is half the battle. They understand the basis of great storytelling, and how to emphasize different parts to appeal to specific outlets. At first glance, some stories can seem like duds, but if you take the time to really dig in, you might be surprised with the results. I have found that those teams who really work to develop the key selling points and then bring those to life with creativity tend to be the most successful.
For the past two decades, I have consistently heard two requests from journalists – understand who you are pitching and make sure the story fits the outlet. It amazes me how many account teams still apply the shotgun approach to media relations. Today’s media outlets are so segmented, it’s not hard to find the right targets if you take the time to do your homework. We sometimes seem to think that clients will only approve campaigns that reach hundreds of journalists. The truth is that 80% of your results will come from 20% of your targets. If you focus on those 20%, not only will you be more cost effective, you might actually generate better results.
I’m a strong believer that creativity wins, and that’s especially true for media relations. Keep in mind the average journalist receives hundreds of pitches every week. What makes yours stand out? Creativity in media relations comes in many forms – from how you tell the story to how you pitch the piece. Many of us tend to rely on words, but studies show we are visual learners. If you want be noticed, think of your pitch as a visual challenge.
Lastly, one aspect of media relations that will never change is the need for tenacity. Great media pitchers understand it’s a matter of being persistent, learning details in calls and leveraging that insight to adjust your story or upcoming pitch. Every call and e-mail exchange with a journalist is a chance to learn more about what they need. This intelligence will make your campaigns more successful.
Yes, it’s true these are changing times, but the foundations of media relations remain the same. I have come to realize that the stronger the foundation, the stronger the campaign.
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