As PR professionals, one of the most important Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) of a campaign is the response rate from writers. Journalists are outnumbered 6:1 by publicists which results in journalists receiving more email pitches than they can handle. In addition to an influx of pitches, journalists have also expressed the majority of pitches they receive are irrelevant to their interests. This causes frustration and ultimately tension between the two professions which heavily rely on one another. OnePitch partnered up with Power Digital Media to discuss optimizing your PR efforts for maximum return. Don’t have time to view the entire webinar? Here’s the TL;DR of what you need to know.
Do your homework
This is the first rule of pitching. Find out who your ideal media contacts are and learn not only what they write about, but what their publication focuses on. Michael Smart, PR-industry veteran, he recommends the 80/20 rule. Meaning PR professionals should focus 80% of their time and efforts on the top 20% of their desired media contact list. While we do not encourage PR pros to become ferocious social media stalkers, we have seen success with regular engagement to build a relationship from an area of common interest. TweetDeck is a great free tool for this and can help you to find the people who are involved in conversations that interest you.
Personalize every pitch
Learning how to point pitch is one of the most important skill sets to have when aiming to be successful in media relations. Sending a general pitch typically means you’ll NEVER hear back from a media professional and can even land you on their blocked list.
Through personal conversations with journalists from Digital Trends, Wall Street Journal, and USA Today, the OnePitch team learned only about 1-2% of pitches journalists receive are relevant and catered to their beat or outlet’s audience. Since editors are in such high demand, it’s critical you differentiate yourself in addition to your client. Figure out what makes you the BEST publicist to work with.
Don’t send more than two follow-ups.
It’s important not to be a nag; and ultimately, it’s more important to understand your audience. Asking questions to gauge a journalist’s interest helps to identify follow up strategy. For instance, asking “Do you think this product would be a fit for an upcoming story?” “Have you ever needed resources like John Smith in the past? The key here is to be clear and concise. Make sure to provide a clear pitch about WHAT it is and WHY it’s relevant.
Short, specific subject lines and bullets work best for allowing an easy way for journalists to digest the information. Services like Google, LinkedIn and Text Expander provide an easy way for journalists to kindly reply, “No thanks,” or, “not interested.” Yes, these can sometimes be vague but the important to recognize is they ARE acknowledging you and your message. Remember, even if you did your due diligence, you still might miss the opportunity to connect.
Find tools to help make your job easier and more efficient
Let’s face it, technology makes our lives easier. They save time, provide resources and new opportunities, and allow you to focus on the most important part of your job. Reporters, journalists, and editors are constantly looking for expert sources and brands to quote or weigh in on their stories but simply can’t keep up with the volume of irrelevant messages and the added complexity of “fake news”. At OnePitch, we’ve developed a specific categorization and matching technology to provide journalists with the most relevant sources and stories they need to make their job easier.
Set expectations with the client
Do this right away, before the client gets a chance to really day-dream! Look at past data to help the client forecast appropriately. This way, you can create PR goals as a team and ensure you are completely aligned. More often than not, publicists will have to reset expectations with them.
The key to resetting these expectations is to share with clients the in-depth process being executed to secure coverage. Google Analytics and SEO tools are also helpful in identifying placement value.
Sometimes journalists are dealing with other stories, don’t have the need to write about your brand, or maybe don’t have the time to reply to your emails. In other cases, they are at conferences or on vacation. In these situations, It’s important to remind yourself to practice patience. These folks are just like you and me, and also have a “boss” to answer to and deadlines to meet. Be patient and you just might land the next feature story with your ideal media contact and outlet.