Ten Media Pearls of Wisdom
| Written by: Ernest Hooper, Tampa Bay Times
1) Media releases are best when backed by a personal connection. The deeper the connection, the more likely the release will produce you’re desired goal. Ideally, you want a meaningful relationship with the most influential media people in your town. However, the personal connection can be as simple as sending an individual release as opposed to an email blast. The few extra minutes it takes to tailor that release to a specific reporter, editor or producer can make the difference.
2) Utilize the subject field. The primary objective of a media release is to garner attention and coverage from a media outlet, but the first goal is to make sure the release is read. If you simply put “MEDIA RELEASE” in the subject field, your email is no different than the 100-150 emails reporters and editors receive every day. Put the specific subject and, if possible, include the reporter’s name. “ERNEST: News You Need About Widgets Inc.”
3) Deliver a professional release and be prepared when you invite the media to learn about your organization. Make sure your web site is up to date. Have key people available for interviews.
4) Don’t wait until the last minute. It’s probably best to send a release four weeks in advance, and then send it again two weeks in advance. It probably won’t hurt to follow up with a telephone call. If you wait until a day or two, it’s probably too late – unless the release is about a Beatles reunion concert that includes John and George.
5) Understand the reporter/paper/station you’re reaching out to and how they like to cover stories. Many PR professionals, when pitching a story, reveal in conversation that they aren’t familiar with your paper or your reports, yet still ask for favorable coverage. This is unwise, to say the least.
6) Tell a story. The best way to communicate your efforts is to put a human face on what you’re trying to achieve. Your company can organize a fundraiser for cancer research, or you can explain that seven years ago, your company’s chief executive officer was diagnosed with cancer and now that it’s in remission, he wants to help others. Journalists want to tell great stories.
7) Make me care. Don’t be afraid to express the importance of your efforts. Detail how many people a potential story will impact. Incorporate trends from surveys or research advances in your pitch.
8) Envision the coverage. Determine who you hope to reach and what type of coverage you hope to receive. If you’re organizing an event, is your hope to attract media coverage to the event? Or, are you more interested in getting “advance coverage” and letting the public know what you have planned.
9) Involve the media. If you ask someone from the newspaper, television station or radio station to host your event, they may be more inclined to lend coverage.
10) Don’t give up. Factors beyond your control often determine news coverage. If you get bypassed, keep trying and, perhaps, try to find out why the outlet declined to respond to the release.