AJ co-founded TrendKite in 2012 and oversees all aspects of the organization’s sales operations.
Media outreach is integral to what PR professionals and agencies do. It is the essential process of sharing your brand’s message with the people who are in the position to get it exposure and attention. However, if what we hear from journalists and other media contacts is correct, there is room for improvement in how it is executed. Here are some media outreach mistakes that journalists hate.
1 – Pitching Announcements, Not Stories
Reporters don’t write announcements. They write stories. Sure, they will share your latest product news, but only if it is connected to something that their audience cares about. Who are the players in the story and how are they impacted by your news?
2 – Offering Old News
Old news is used to wrap dead fish, not to further a reporter’s career. Pitch fresh news and explain why what you have to say is new and different from what has already been said and done. If you add a “me too” feature to your product, for example, no one is going to be interested enough to read, let alone write, a story about it.
3 – Myopic Pitches
Your story pitches should be done in context with what is going on in the industry, the country and the world. Connect your messages to broader trends and events to create more engagement on the part of the reporter and the reader.
4 – Bad Timing
If you offer BYOD security software, it probably isn’t a good idea to pitch your new product story to technology reporters on the day Apple launches the iPhone 6, for example. You have to have a good idea of what else might have your media contact’s attention and act accordingly.
5 – Pitches from Left Field
There is nothing reporters hate more than being pitched stories that seem to come from someone who has never read anything they’ve written before. In order to be effective at media outreach, you need to have a good understanding of each media contact’s audience, topics of interest and writing style. Media monitoring is the only way to achieve good alignment between what you pitch to whom.
6 – Overreach vs. Outreach
It’s ok to follow up and be persistent, but you’ve got to back off before the journalist gets a restraining order. Yes, send a follow up email and give them a ring if you don’t hear back after an initial communication, but keep in mind that silence is a way of politely communicating disinterest. Accept it and move on.
The key to effective outreach is putting yourself in the mind of each contact and asking if your pitches will be seen as helpful to the reporter’s job or just one more thing to delete. The good news is that with the right tools in place and a well-designed PR strategy, it is easy to avoid these media outreach mistakes and keep yourself in the good graces of the reporters who cover your space.