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By: Carly Connor

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5 Tips to Refine Your Media Relations Outreach in 2019


The beginning of a year gives PR pros the chance to step back, strategize, research and refine our media outreach approaches – and determine ways to exceed results from the previous year.

Michael Smart recently got me thinking about this in his “Fast Track to Media Relations Mastery” webinar. During the webinar, he affirmed that a smarter strategy versus working harder is the key to media relations success. Here is a recap of his media relations tips, some of which are basic but all of which are perfect for finding ways to generate greater results in 2019.

Think of your media contacts as people (not just names on a list)

Ever feel like you’re sending the same pitch to the masses? Scrolling one by one through your recycled media list? If you’re nodding your head, we’ve all been there. An essential step for improving your media relations results is thinking of your contacts as people. Talk to them and get to know them as individual people so you can offer the most valuable information.

Segment your media list

Who are your highest priority outlets and contacts? That is the question you should ask yourself when segmenting your media list. Smart suggests identifying only as many key targets as you can meaningfully engage with. For your criteria, challenge yourself to think beyond reach and UMV when deciding how to prioritize your media list. Think of who really focuses on the topic you’re pitching and the audience you’re looking to reach.

Do your research

This one may seem like a given, but it’s also often forgotten. Before reaching out to a reporter, allow ample time for research. Know what they cover, what they like and what they’re actively talking about. Social media is an ideal place to look for insights on your target contacts. Additionally, once you identify your targeted (smaller) media list, you can begin to actively track and monitor what your contacts are discussing and writing about.

Spark curiosity by the way you craft your pitches

As you likely know, reporters receive hundreds of emails each day – and that number continues to rise as newsrooms continue to shrink and reporters are forced to cover additional beats. To say they don’t have time for fluff or irrelevant offers would be an understatement. So, how can you break through the noise? By mastering your pitch structure! Smart suggests this simple pitch structure, which should be 150 characters or less:

  • 1st paragraph: Refer to the reporter’s earlier work or research
  • 2nd paragraph: Highlight the catchy or most important piece of your information
  • 3rd paragraph: Brief call to action or relevant offer

Another pitching tip: When pitching broadcast, set up your pitch like a film or story. Stan Bush, reporter at CBS Denver, says if he can’t visualize the TV segment when reading your pitch, he’s moving on to his next email.

Work to build relationships and get on your contact’s radar

So, building relationships is the goal, but how does one go about it? Smart offers a step-by-step process that can be done over the course of 45 days.

  • Day 1: Engage first by commenting on a specific piece of content. Something that relates to the reporter’s beat or something you noticed they’re already discussing. But, most importantly, a piece of content that doesn’t mention your client or product.
  • Day 15: Provide further value by sharing a piece of content that the reporter would find interesting and, perhaps, could even take that initial topic to the next level.
  • Day 30: Tell them you’ve read and shared a piece of their recent work and include what the reaction may have been.
  • Day 45: Comment on another piece they’ve written and ask a specific question.

As you head into the new year, I hope you find success using these tips, too.

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