I've been reading so many articles about how the 'media pitch is dead' or that old school PR tactics don't cut it anymore. Don't believe the hype!
While it is true that PR has had to step up their efforts in order gain attention from the myriad of information and 'fake news' out there - evolving its approach to media relations - There is still much skill and creativity used in grabbing the attention of your desired media outlets. (after all, isn't it the chase, we all love?)
I've heard of PR companies axing their suite of media relations services to focus solely on social media strategy - I've also seen companies chose to hyper-focus on a single aspect of PR (i.e. one key message) in order to gain expert positioning among competitors. I am happy to say that as PR pros, we have even MORE outreach options than before, but we don't have to ditch the media pitch!
While social media has all but banished the 'desk side' reporter lunch, there are still a myriad of options to get onto people's radar with the right pitch.
My advice to hitting a home run when pitching:
1. Don't discount Assistants: While trying to get to that one dreamy reporter/editor who will fulfill your editorial needs, look around at their team - their researchers and assistants. They too, are worth getting on your radar and may have influence over editorial direction - they may also write for other outlets or be assisting to fill other features that week.
2. Gatekeepers: At times, when a phone call is warranted, there is just no reaching the person you want to speak with. Instead of hanging up the phone in frustration or stumbling through voice mail - try someone else in the department. Giving some context to the person taking the message could have a positive spin on how your message gets delivered, and perhaps bump you up in terms of priority, or at least get them to look for your email. i.e. "I just really wanted to deliver this research report to Jim Stanley for a series that he’s currently working on, could you let me know when he is usually at his desk writing?” (This is tougher - but practice makes better.)
3. Know your triggers: Each reporter/editor has their own "trigger" vocabulary that may have a greater impact in getting their attention. This could be a reference to an article they just wrote, or a spin on the 'beat' that they normally cover, or a current event in their industry. Be warned, this works both ways with over-used JARGON and BUZZWORDS which could turn them running in the opposite direction. Playing too much into jargon territory could push you over into the camp of 'generic' or 'trying too hard'.
4. Mind your Influencers: Finally, don't discount the myriad of online sources and bloggers that are also writing about these topics each and every day. There are tools that can help you create tailored lists and research the 'top' or most engaged bloggers online - as this shifts from month to month. *Small tip: Those with 20,000+ followers can sometimes have lower engagement than say, the 5K following, and they are going to definitely charge for their services - so remember, it's not all about numbers with influencers, sometimes it's a good fit that works best!
So get started and be creative – the chase is half the fun!