Is your public relations firm committing a media fail?

By Marjorie Comer

21520402_sIn media relations, use a sharp shooter, not a shotgun

To benefit our amazing clients, we recently invested in professional development by sitting in on a webinar called “Mass Pitching - Smart Strategy or Massive Mistake” to sharpen our media-pitching skills. You might be surprised to know that some reporters call out public relations professionals on social media for connecting with them poorly.

One of the many added benefits of hiring a PR firm is its ongoing relationships with members of the media and the firm’s ability to earn news media coverage on your company’s behalf. As a public relations firm specializing in national PR campaigns, Axia Public Relations diligently works to establish relationships with reporters in our clients’ various industries in order to avoid a common mistake in the profession: mass media-pitching.

Quality vs. quantity

Webinar panelist and Spin Sucks blogger Laura Petrolino noted that mass pitching stems from a lack of education and understanding of best practices in media relations. It’s also from a lack of concern for efficiency, research and relationship-building. When it comes to your pitches, it’s a question of quality versus quantity.

There are a number of entrepreneurs, ad agencies, PR firms and solo PR pros who believe that volume outweighs quality when it comes to media lists and pitching, and they often get stuck in the mass pitching rut. This can also be a result of client expectations.

We found that there is a greater ROI when you create a quality pitch versus sending out a large quantity of pitches. As public relations professionals, it is our responsibility to share this information with you, the client. Your success is our success, and while you might want to see reports that show that we pitched hundreds of news outlets each month, a smaller, tighter, groomed media list is far more effective.

One well-earned news story has much greater impact than an email with no personal or custom touch sent to 50 disinterested newsroom contacts.

Technology

Just as technology makes it easier to send more pitches in less time, it also allows for quicker research and a more effective media list. Just like journalists, public relations professionals must do their due diligence when creating media lists and pitching news about your company.

We recommend searching to see who covered a similar story in the past or who covers a specific beat. Yes, it takes time to initially research those contacts, but once a relationship is made and established, you will find that you invested your time wisely.

Is mass pitching ever OK?

Mass pitching can be effective with breaking news. We still don’t recommend it, though: Most companies and individuals are almost never part of true breaking news.

If your team is going to use a mass pitch, make sure it’s at least a reactive pitch, which means a response to breaking news. Mass pitching should not be the go-to tactic for every pitch or story idea your team shares with the media.

Be a human

Reporters will ignore you if they believe your pitch is only spammy outreach. “Mass pitching efforts are robotic. Being robotic takes human quality away,” Petrolino said during the webinar. Add a human touch to your pitches.

Again, technology is your friend when you use it properly, and that includes using social media. Get to know a reporter before you pitch him. Follow him on social media and find natural ways to interact with him.

When it comes time to pitch, connect with a reporter as a human first.

  • Follow her on Twitter or her Facebook page.

    • Retweet her recent posts.

    • Comment on her posts.

    • Ask questions.

  • Review her recent stories.

  • Pick up the phone.

    • Consider asking:

      • How she prefers to be contacted

      • What types of stories interest her

    • Don’t focus on scripting.

When you pitch a reporter, refer to a recent story or article that you enjoyed or even thank him for retweeting (or favoriting) something you posted.

  • Be sure to personalize the pitch.

  • Craft a catchy subject line.

  • Use the reporter’s name.

  • Keep the pitch short and sweet.

  • Ask if you can share additional details, then share the full pitch.

What to do if your PR firm is mass pitching

This conversation is one that should start with the public relations firm. As the PR firm, it is our responsibility to educate our clients about quality over quantity. We understand you want results – quickly – and we want to give them to you, just not through spammy tactics like mass pitching.

If your PR firm hasn’t properly demonstrated an understanding for the need for quality pitches over quantity, sit down with your account manager to learn a little more about the overall strategy and pitching process. It benefits the firm and you when you have a better understanding of the process.

If you’re looking for precision media pitches with higher success rates, call Axia Public Relations at 1-888-PR-FIRM-8 (888-773-4768). Learn more from our free public relations e-book “Learn Media Relations From The Media: What journalists want you to know before you contact them,” available for download now.

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Featured image credit: 123rf.com

Topics: Media Relations, Public Relations, Featured

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