Four Little Words: Media Relations Advice from Journalists to PR Pros
By Ann Revell-Pechar, Vice President, Carolinas at Arketi Group
I’ve been making my rounds again, asking journalists and bloggers what it is that PR people are doing right, and what we’re getting lazy about. It’s not that we don’t know this stuff – it’s just that the pressures of getting that proverbial ink sometimes push us to misbehave.
As I think back on their comments, there’s a strain of a chorus being written. It’s not Kumbayah, my Lord! It’s more of a shoot-‘em-up, early Dylan ballad. If we could all learn to sing, in tune and in unison or harmony, we may be able to continue holding the honor of being a Public Relations Professional.
Here are the four words that would make up the baseline of that chorus:
- Target. Stop blasting emails! Turns out, we’re still so anxious about getting the word out to that we’re not paying much attention to what particular journalists do or need. We’re worrying more about our ‘hits’ than about something that will make for a good piece for the writer. And if you’re planning a ‘deskside’ or press tour in, say, New York, check to see that the journalist you’re contacting is in New York… not just the headquarters for the publication.
- Story. Journalists write stories, right? So give them a story, not a series of acronyms or adjectives. It should be relevant and timely (no one wants an also-ran) and have character and depth. Don’t try writing War and Peace or Anna Karenina; a short, easily digestible story is best. Preferably one that’s not a fable.
- Respect. Respect the work they’ve done by having read some of it. Respect their audience by telling the truth. Respect their time by getting to the point of what you want right away. Don’t call to ask if they got your press release (they got it). Respect their role – if they’re a columnist, they’ll express their opinion. If their opinion doesn’t make your client/boss happy, don’t take it out on the journalist.
- Invest. Note that just because they didn’t respond to this story idea that they’re not interested. If it was well written they may tuck it away for future ideas. Don’t think of your encounters as a one-off: invest in the relationship long-term. If their audience is your customer, it’s likely that at some point you’ll have a solid story for them. Don’t push… your career is long, and so is theirs.
So if you take these four little words and apply them to every opportunity you have to call a journalist, you’ll be closer to giving them what THEY need… which might ultimately give you what you need, too.
Ann Revell-Pechar is vice president and general manager of the Carolinas at Arketi Group, a public relations and digital marketing firm that helps business-to-business technology organizations accelerate growth through intelligent strategy, public relations, messaging, branding and demand generation. Consistently recognized by BtoB magazine as one of the nation’s “Top BtoB Agencies,” Arketi helps its clients use marketing to generate revenue. To view all company blogs visit here, and for more information call Ann at 919-909-1097.
Published: August 29, 2012 By: