Media and blogger outreach is an important skill for the PR professional. When it comes to getting attention for your clients’ latest news, event, product or service, communication with media takes careful planning.
As PR pros, your relationships with the media and blogging community are a vital part of your reputation as a communications professional and one bad pitch or careless outreach tactic can harm your image.
Throughout the year, media receive hundreds of weekly pitches from our PR community but when the holiday season approaches, this intensifies. Newsroom phones ring constantly with tips on the next exciting holiday product and bloggers are overwhelmed with emails for holiday event invites and seasonal gift ideas.
During the holiday madness, PR pros can neglect basic skills and irritate the busiest of bloggers and reporters. No matter what your experience level, if you are pitching media and bloggers this holiday season, here are some things NOT to do as you work to help spread the word on your client’s news.
Let’s give the PR profession a better reputation and avoid these mistakes.
Avoid sending the generic pitch to every media contact on your list
Media and bloggers want to produce unique content for their audience. When receiving a pitch that has been sent to every reporter and blogger in the city, its unlikely that media will want to cover news that may appear on several other media outlets and blogs. Take the time to personalize your pitch and offer details and options that you think will interest that writer’s audience. You may even consider exclusive opportunities for a specific reporter or blogger, providing them with content that their audience will only find on that particular outlet or blog.
If you must send the same information to various contacts in one email, please remember to blind copy the recipients! No one wants to receive a pitch with every other reporter’s email listed right there in the recipient list.
Don’t forget basic respect. Know WHO you are pitching!
I can’t count the number of bloggers who have told me PR horror stories about receiving emails from PR contacts who don’t know anything about who they are or what they write about. Mistakes include calling someone MR. when the blogger is female, getting their name wrong or offering them the latest technology news when they cover fashion. Bloggers and media work hard to create valuable and interesting content for their audience. Rushing through the pitching process without taking the time to learn about who you are pitching will only irritate the recipient and may even put you on the “delete list”.
Avoid the “flyer” method. What is your offer or call to action?
When you work in a newsroom or have created a popular blog that readers love, you receive an endless number of pitches and invites daily. If you want to grab that writer or producer’s attention, you need to make your pitch stand out. Media are incredibly busy and providing them with clear details while identifying why they may be interested is key. Sending media a pdf on a new product or event with no personalized pitch or invite will only have the reporter hitting the delete button.
Don’t get stuck in your regional bubble. Remember where media and bloggers are located.
I have spent most of my PR career working in Vancouver and since the day I moved to the west coast, media and bloggers have described the endless number of thoughtless pitches they receive from PR teams in other cities (Toronto tops the list!). Whether it be inviting a Vancouver blogger to a cocktail event in Toronto or sending a Toronto business story to a Vancouver news producer, lack of regional consideration is far too common. When pitching a holiday product or story idea, remember the market and the audience. A pitch on gifts that are not available in Vancouver stores, or info on winter snow gear for a city that rarely gets snow, are examples of the importance of carefully considering the market in which the journalist or blogger is located.
Never pitch a reporter or blogger without first knowing their work.
This tip is similar to one above but it’s so important that it’s worth talking about in more detail. Media and bloggers work hard and take pride in what they do. Taking the time to read, watch or listen to their content is the least a PR pro can do before drafting their pitch. If you notice that the reporter tends to write often on a specific topic, its worth identifying this and providing the journalist with an idea on how they may expand or follow up on a story angle. Perhaps you have a client source or news that may help them to do so.
If its clear from a post that a blogger does not drink alcohol, sending them an invite to a new wine launch may not be a good idea. Pitching a writer on an interview with a client when that journalist has written unfavorably on that industry repeatedly in the past takes careful consideration and may not even be a pitch you want to pursue.
PR professionals are intelligent and creative and we do important work that can provide the news industry and blogging community with valuable content. Let’s show the best of what we do and avoid these mistakes this holiday season. You will find yourself with good relationships and you may even see your client’s news on the front page this holiday season.