It’s no secret that pitching the news media has changed immensely over the past few years and has become increasingly more difficult with constantly changing beats, fewer reporters to pitch and more avenues to reach them. And now add in the blogger community.
But veteran media coach Michael Smart, a former journalist turned communications executive, offered some tried-and-true tips to a sold-out PRSA-NCC crowd on how to break through the noise to boost your chances of successfully reaching journalists and bloggers. The four-hour June 26 seminar not only highlighted some of Smart’s successes over the years but also showcased the successes of clients he has coached.
Some of his tips included the obvious, such as his two-part recipe for media relations: 1) develop relationships with reporters; and 2) ensure the story you are pitching is a quality story.
But Smart acknowledged that often our organizations or our clients don’t have a story to pitch, but the expectation is that you, as the PR pro, will still garner coverage. Whether you have a news hook or not, Smart offered up the following eight story “boosters:”
- Look for process stories: when you have a non-story, dig into the process. “Find something quirky and use that as your angle,” said Smart.
- Find unorthodox beats: these angles often appeal to reporters other than your industry’s beat reporters.
- Frame your pitch around people: “Reporters hear a lot from officials,” said Smart. “Who are the people your company touches?”
- Tie your news to a trend: “Reporters love trends. Be an example for an existing trend. Or,” suggested Smart, “recommend a new trend.”
- Tie in to the media agenda: “Tie your news to a current event.”
- Exploit pop culture: “Everybody loves celebrity news,” a sad, but true trend in all outlets, noted Smart.
- Leverage existing assets: “Brainstorm a list of your organization’s resources, and pair them in unique ways.”
- Create an angle where there wasn’t one: “This is where your creativity comes into play.” Citing from his own experience, Smart talked about being asked to get coverage for Brigham Young University’s math team. His solution: to create a “math rap” featuring BYU’s mathletes that was posted on YouTube. The video went on to garner numerous media hits due to it creativity. You can watch the video!
Smart also offered this tip on the most important part of the body of an email pitch: it’s the end. “Can reporters see the end of your email when they open it without having to scroll down,” asked Smart. “If not, you need to shorten your pitch.”
Thanks to OgilvyPR for hosting the event in their Washington D.C. office.