Avoid These Pitfalls to Help Make Your Outreach a Hit
Recently we shared a few recommendations on what organizations should do, or not do, when it comes to strategic communications.
The same goes for pitching media and getting your name or your story out there, especially if your company or association or nonprofit is not well-known to reporters or the public.
To find success with placing a story, consistency is key, but so is making sure you’re targeting the right reporters with the right news and information. This was true 10, 20, and even 30 years ago, if not more, and it’s even more true today as news is moving fast and newsrooms continue to shrink, leaving fewer reporters to work on more stories reporters are working on multiple stories at a time.
Here are five pitfalls that should be avoided when trying to place your story:
- Targeting the Wrong Reporters: Curating an effective media list takes time and being meticulous in finding the right reporter who covers the right beat. There are plenty of reporters who cover finance, business, or lifestyle, but some focus solely on Wall Street, mergers, or fitness. If not paying close attention and looking at what reporters cover within their own beats, it is easy to send a good pitch to the right outlet but to the wrong reporter In the same vein, assuming a media list you made a year ago is still accurate, is a big mistake. A fair number of those reporters could have easily moved onto a different beat or different outlet. While it may be time-intensive, taking the time to review and update an older media list is crucial.
- Pitching Too Late: Timing is important. In some ways, timing is everything when it comes to pitching success, but it is often hard to know when the time is right. Reaching out to a reporter with a last-minute story idea on something taking place the next day can be a way for a good story to go nowhere. Few reporters are willing to drop everything (unless it is truly an amazing story), or they cover breaking news. It can vary from story to story, but you need to give the reporter enough advanced notice that they have time to lay out the story, conduct interviews and put pen to paper.
- Not Tailoring Your Pitch: As noted above, there are reporters that are hyper-focused within their respective beats, and it is important to know the differences that lie in between. For example, a pitch about a travel experience by train will not work for a reporter who focuses on air travel. Or a pitch on new travel deals in the U.S. will not work for a reporter that focuses innovation and technology in the tourism industry. Knowing exactly where your story fits into the myriad of other stories helps you find the right beat, eventually finding the right reporter.
- Giving Up When Results Are Not Immediate: A big part of media pitching is having determination and not admitting defeat if your emails or phone calls keep getting rejected or go unanswered. Reporters are busy and are on tight deadlines. It might take some time for them to get back to you, if they do at all. It’s also OK to follow-up. It’s also OK to try new angles and tailored pitches and to target reporters. So, if at first you don’t succeed, keep hammering away.
- Pitching Fluff for the Sake of Pitching: Often, organizations just want to put out a press release or a pitch for the sake of putting it out in the world. When this occurs, and there isn’t even any news to the pitch, there’s a good chance a reporter will ignore it completely. Your pitch needs to be relevant and appropriate to the reporter and their audience. Otherwise, it could be a big waste of everyone’s time.
Avoiding these pitfalls in your media relations efforts will help you make the most of your time and energy, as well as the reporter’s.