By: Libby Pinkerton

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Feb 8, 2018 | Linhart Blog

Times Are a-Changin’: Five Ways to Win at Media Relations in 2018

Could it be that media relations as a business isn’t dying, but PR pros are just doing it wrong? That’s the question media pitching coach Michael Smart posed in his recent PRSA Webinar “New Rules for Earned Media in 2018”. According to Smart, business is booming, but we may overlook new opportunities if we’re too preoccupied with an outdated model of PR that says a New York Times or USA Today placement is the gold standard. The media landscape is in flux, and we owe it to ourselves and to our organizations and clients to pay attention.

Smart cites five major landscape changes that warrant new strategies and tactics:

Change #1: The emergence of new media channels
Smart urges PR pros to expand our definition of “the media” to include any third-party trusted by our clients’ key audiences – digital-native outlets, social media influencers, bloggers, etc. While a Wall Street Journal feature may forever be the media relations Holy Grail, the fact is most PR pros can get a much better return – more quickly – by tapping non-traditional outlets with similar reach and credibility. To determine if outlets are worth the time investment, Smart suggests using tools like to compare the domain authority and legitimacy of websites and blogs.

Change #2: Journalists’ incentives have changed
Nowadays, a journalist’s primary concern is driving page views and traffic. So, it’s our job to identify and highlight the resources we have at our disposal like email newsletters and social platforms that can help amplify and drive traffic to eventual placements. What if you don’t have these resources? Smart says to consider partnering with another organization or influencer that does.

Change #3: The numbers are stacked against us
There are now four PR pros for every one journalist, and most journalists receive 50-500 pitches per day. To break through the noise, it’s imperative to get noticed before pitching and to interact on an ongoing basis with the influencers that matter most to our audiences. Smart suggests creating a list of your top 10 influencers and spending 10 minutes a day reviewing and reacting to their content.

Change #4: Customization is king
Faux customization fails, and journalists will see right through general flattery and insincerity. It’s crucial to be specific in pitches and correspondence to stand out.

Change #5: Journalists are ALWAYS on deadline
In this 24-hour news cycle, journalists don’t have the time to do as much research or thoroughly vet sources/ideas. Plus, there’s an insatiable need for visuals, which can be time consuming to acquire. The good news – reporters will let us do the legwork for them! Spending a little extra time to pull together an infographic, video or third-party example will help round out and complement any story angle.

Are you looking for more high-quality media coverage to drive your target audience to action? Contact me at


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