PR Diaries: 5 Ways to Burn Out Your Media Contacts

Best Practices

Nobody wants to suck at what they do. Trying really hard to be impressive can easily turn into….sucking if you’re not careful. Working with the media is like walking on eggshells and you have to be very careful not to set contacts off or turn them away. You don’t know what will make them tick, but you can try to understand by making a few smart moves. If you’re doing any of these 5 things below, you’re not killing (in a good way) your PR game but are killing (in a bad way) your chances at placement. Here’s what to avoid when working with the media.

How should you reach out to reporters without being annoying? Find out! #PR Click To Tweet

 

The Chatty Cathy

Think about how uninterested you are with your inbox when you open it up in the morning if the subject line doesn’t say something compelling. If you open an email and it’s longer than the Nile and from someone you’ve never heard of, you’re going to look at it as less of a resource opportunity and more of a homework assignment.

Editors and reporters don’t have the time or interest to listen to you drone on about how awesome your company is. Find your news angle and hit them with a brief few sentences on why they need to talk to you for more information. Burying the news angle and purpose of your outreach will result in a quick move to the trash. Be upfront with a punchy reason to cover your news.

 

Do you know why User Experience is so important? You should.

 

Having Poor Aim

I’ve talked about it once and I’ll talk about it again. Targeting the right audience when pitching is vital. I’m guilty of having editors respond to me after sending a pitch or copy and reading the embarrassing response they actually took the time to write explaining that I targeted the wrong topic to the wrong outlet. Oops. Save yourself some embarrassing bridge burning and research the beats of the reporters you want to cover your news. Become very familiar with the voice and audience of the blogs you’d like a feature on.

 

Twitter is a neat tool. Man up and tweet the reporter… I dare you!

 

Pillow Fight!

If you see feathers flying all over the room, you lost the pillow fight with too much fluff in your pitch. This partners closely with being a Chatty Cathy. Beating around the bush and telling the editor your company or client’s entire life history is not going to impress anyone. Editors are most impressed by bare bones, and getting right to the good stuff — something that takes a lot to understand what you need from them. Don’t overcomplicate things.

 

Being a Creep

If after sending your initial pitch you don’t hear back from the editor, it’s perfectly fine to send a reminder about the idea 7 days later. It’s perfectly creepy to send a reminder, tweet them a heads up, stalk their LinkedIn, share their Facebook posts and “run into” them at Starbucks. If you didn’t get the feedback you were looking for this go-around, let them know you’re open to creating content that more closely fits their funnel and hope to work with them in the future. That’s it. Case closed. Leave them alone for a few weeks, find a different angle and re-craft your pitch differently than the first time around.

 

More things you should know about effective communication.

 

Check Your Clock

After you’ve found the perfect outlet for your article, you’ve crafted the most beautiful pitch with a pearl of a subject line, take a look at the clock. If it’s 8am on a Monday or 3:30pm on a Friday, abort ship. Save the pitch as a draft and find a different time to send – perhaps Tuesday morning around 9am, after they’ve had their coffee and survived the piling inbox from Monday. If you’re reaching out to a news outlet, keep in mind their deadlines and shoot times. If you’re calling the hour before show time, you’re going to be on the bottom of their list of ‘things to do.’

Your best bet is the middle of the week, in the morning. This way, if it’s a reporter you’re reaching out to, they have all day to write whatever it is you’ve pitched them. If it’s an editor you’ve reached out to, they have time to collaborate with you on the piece and hopefully get the article or release scheduled out for the next morning.

 

The best practice to keep in mind is thinking of what you expect from others when they ask you for a favor. You’re essentially giving them assignments. So if you’re rude, off topic, annoying, inconsiderate or sketchy, they don’t want anything to do with you – and you’ve immediately burned the bridge. Keep these 5 things taped to your desk when pitching to reporters and editors to keep the relationships flourishing and expanding.

What are your #PR horror stories? Share with me! @NoelleBellLynne and @RedBranch

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