media relationships

Don’t Just Pitch Stories, Pitch Sources!

By Jeff Cheatham, Senior Account Supervisor at TrizCom PR

As public relations ‘practitioners’ (a $20 word), we pride ourselves on our ability to pitch the media just the right story at just the right time. In doing so, we go through a mental checklist of suitability factors. Number one: is the story news and noteworthy? If you have to ruminate on this point, it probably isn’t. Can you make it news and noteworthy? Well, it is our job to find the angles…

When we approach the media in our outreach efforts, we like to do a little exercise where we put ourselves in our target’s shoes. When they get your emailed pitch, will it be greeted with a slow, approving nod? Or an eye roll, banished forever in the Deleted Items folder? We’re always aiming for the slow, approving nod. Hopefully followed up with an immediate reply or a call asking for more information.

CNN’s Anderson Cooper demonstrates the eye roll

CNN’s Anderson Cooper demonstrates the eye roll

Do you see what just occurred there? What we’re really trying to do is help the media. We want to make their jobs easier, which is no small task considering how many times they likely roll their eyes each and every day. And if we’re truly trying to help our friends in the media secure coverage for our clients, why not find new and inventive ways to do so?

Pitch sources, not just stories.

Is your client an expert on anything? If you don’t think so, maybe you have the wrong client. You need to find inventive ways in which you can pitch your client sources to the media. If successful, that’s the very definition of an industry thought leader, correct? Being able to feature a client of yours on the news or in the newspaper is an ideal way to attach credibility to their product or service. The source subject is almost always featured by name—and by company.

Source pitching works extremely well if you can attach your client to a breaking news story. If an issue or current event is at stake and your client has a valuable opinion on it, don’t be shy about sending a brief note to your contacts in the media. List out their areas of expertise and how they might contribute to the overall conversation.

What Breaking News looks like…

What Breaking News looks like…

We’re doing a little of that ourselves these days. Fortunately for us, the Trump Administration is the gift that keeps on giving. Their American Health Care Act and proposed budget cuts to Medicaid may end up being a banner day for our nonprofit client, Community Council of Dallas. One of the Community Council’s core missions is to advise and assist consumers in navigating the health care marketplace. If we can secure them as a viable source to break down the issues for viewers and readers, everyone comes out ahead. And we get a few more media hits to add to their online newsroom.

When you pitch the media a source instead of a story, you’re attempting to do them a favor. You’re basically saying, “We know your time is valuable, and you may be too busy to line up sources on your own. Let us to do the heavy lifting.”

That’s the true beauty of pitching a source. And the definition of a win-win situation.

 

Best Friends Forever: How to Build Lasting Relationships with the Media

By Nikki Darling, TrizCom PR

If there’s one thing I’ve learned in the past year as a publicist, it’s that PR is a marathon, not a race. At TrizCom, we fully stand behind this sentiment because it rings true in every aspect of PR. I’ve noticed its relevance most recently in my relationships with reporters.

Gaining a reporter’s trust does not happen overnight. Likewise, a reporter gaining our trust as PR professionals does not happen overnight. But we benefit from each other – and establishing these relationships is paramount.

The goal is to establish yourself as a reliable source for the media. You want them to call you when they need a quote or email you when they have a story and would like to include your client. You want to be the first person they think about when a relevant story crosses their desk. And you want them to take your story idea and run with it. So when these trusting relationships are established, it means success for both parties. They get good stories out of me and I end up with solid media wins for my client, knowing there’s more where that came from.

Yes, these relationships are important. These types of relationships are coveted – but they take time and a little bit of elbow grease.

It doesn’t happen with a snap of your fingers. You don’t provide one solid story and then – BAM – best friends for life. But a pattern of delivering timely stories relevant to the reporter can jumpstart that friendship.

I always take the approach of making the reporter’s life easier. Whatever I can do to make it easier for them to go click, click, click and publish a story – is absolutely necessary. Whether compiling an easy-to-download link to photos, writing an editorial-type press release or responding quickly to emails, it’s important to make it easy for the reporter to publish. Not only does this heighten the likelihood of your story getting published, but the reporter trusts your ability to deliver assets and valuable information in a professional and timely manner.

Another consideration to keep in mind is: what exactly does this reporter cover? This is such a simple yet vital step. There is no point in clogging a reporter’s inbox with press releases or content that would not interest them or appeal to their beat. Get to know what the reporter likes to cover and regularly writes about. Then make sure to send them content that appeals to those interests. They won’t run with the story if it isn’t in their wheelhouse, and it’s a surefire way to annoy them.

Last but not least, never underestimate the power of a simple follow up thank you email or card. This will show your respect for the reporter and their time. Not to mention, they will definitely remember the publicist who sent a thank you card over the ones who didn’t. It will help keep you on the top of their mind.

The bottom line? My client benefits from having regular and well-put-together pieces, and reporters can come to me knowing I will provide A+ content. These are all things I’ve kept in mind and implemented over the past year, and not to toot my own horn, but I’ve been able to make a few reporter best friends along the way.

 

Trading Places

By Jeff Cheatham, TrizCom PR

Having a successful career in public relations today takes much more work and dedication than it used to. And if you don’t know why, you should. Reporters, editors, producers, contributing writers, bloggers, key influencers and the remainder of our vital contacts in the media are shrinking exponentially. Those who remain are busier than ever. At the same time, public relations firms and PR people continue to multiply. The window of opportunity for getting earned media placements often seems like reentering the earth’s atmosphere in a space ship—the timing and calculations have to be just right. Too shallow, you’ll skip out into space. Too steep, and you’ll burn up in the atmosphere.

“   Yeah, that’s a pretty narrow reentry window…”

Yeah, that’s a pretty narrow reentry window…”

Which brings me to the point. PR professionals should train themselves to trade places with the media. Not literally (although a 24-hour stint wouldn’t hurt), but figuratively. There’s a reason that the number one piece of pitch advice from the media is always the same: “Tell me why it’s important to my readers.”

Now you’re going to learn how to trade places through an excellent recent example I experienced. I happen to work with an incredible client,
Dillon Gage Metals. They’re an international wholesaler of gold, silver, platinum and palladium. Collectively, their subject is precious metals. And there are a lot of other precious metals firms around the world. Conversely, as you might surmise, there are not a lot of precious metals reporters. However, the ones who do cover the topic for the Associated Press and Reuters are extremely valuable media targets. Which brings me to my case study.

At the beginning of February, something interesting began brewing in the gold market. After months and months of steady price declines, the yellow metal began to reverse course and climb in value. Before it was over, a mini “Gold rush” occurred, sparking immediate investor interest from Wall Street to China—and everywhere in between. I desperately wanted to get my client in on the conversation. And to do so, I traded places with the media contact I intended to pitch. Call it a Zen-like moment, an out-of-body experience or a transcendental exercise. But I paused and tried to imagine what her day was like. And I got chaos. Pure chaos. I pictured endless phones ringing, people shouting, papers flying and an editor standing over her shoulder screaming about two deadlines already missed.

I didn’t want to send her another clichéd pitch. Instead, I decided I wanted to help her. Badly.

So I sprang into action. Reading through a few news accounts on the sudden flurry of activity in the precious metals market, I quickly coalesced a few key questions for my client contact at Dillon Gage Metals to answer:

- What kind of demand in volume are you seeing today vs. one year ago?
Who is buying and placing orders--individuals or institutional investors?
What is causing the rally in the gold market?
Will the rally last?

What a Zen-like moment may look like…

What a Zen-like moment may look like…

I got my answers, typed them up in a neat Q&A format and emailed the coveted reporter, offering my content to her for the purpose of assisting her reporting. Guess what? It worked like a charm. And how do I know that? Because in her reply, she explained that she was completely swamped, unable to keep up with news updates, phone calls and emails (presumably, many of which were clichéd media pitches). 

The next day, the quotes and answers I provided from Dillon Gage Metals appeared in a Reuters article. Which was picked up by more newspapers, online blogs and other media outlets than I care to count (and also, I’m terrible at math). This all became possible because I chose to trade places with my media target. I was no longer thinking about what she could do for me. I was thinking about what I could do for her.

Trading places. I wonder what this business would be like if every PR person did that. 

Jeff is a senior account executive at TrizCom PR

From national industry leaders and Dallas-Fort Worth’s largest companies to startups and growing enterprises, TrizCom PR provides public relations and social media services to a wide variety of businesses encompassing startup, healthcare, lifestyle brands, B2B, energy, tech, entertainment, food/beverage and beyond. TrizCom PR has a dynamic track record of local, regional, national and international media placements on behalf of its clients that, if monetized, would equal hundreds of millions of dollars. In 2014 and 2015, TrizCom PR has been named in the top 25 of PR Firms by Dallas Business Journal. TrizCom PR is a Certified Woman Owned Business Corporation (NWBOC). For more information on TrizCom PR call 972-247-1369 or visit www.TrizCom.com.

Jeff’s contact information:
O: 972-247-1369
C: 972-961-6171
JeffC@TrizCom.com
L: https://www.linkedin.com/in/jeffreycheatham
T: www.twitter.com/JeffreyCheatham  

Researching to find the right reporter

By: Martin Stein, Pitch PR Powered By TrizCom PR

One of the key, but often neglected, aspects of public relations is research. Maybe it’s because research feels like homework: bent over a computer, scanning spreadsheets and databases, or going to Google and clicking on the 12th page of results and then the 13th. But the lack of research is one of the main reasons journalists hate PR executives (aka publicists), so if you take this important step for your startup’s outreach, you’ll have put yourself strides ahead of many quote-unquote professionals. 

The reason research is so important is that it will let you know that you’re contacting the right person for your story. Imagine you’re starving and in the mood for a hot, gooey slice of pizza: how do you think you’d react if you were instead served a salad? Or a glass of water and a packet of Sanka? A hammer?

Take that aggravation, multiply it by hundreds, and that’s what reporters deal with every day. City reporters get pitched stories about new restaurants. Restaurant critics are asked to write about clothing lines. And fashion editors are contacted regarding playground fundraisers. All because someone didn’t bother to find out what the reporters actually write about.

And each ignorant pitch just makes it harder for the next person to try and get that reporter’s attention, not to mention running the risk of permanently turning that writer hostile to you and your company.

So how do you do research? Most PR pros turn to a subscription database called Cision, which lists just about every traditional media outlet in the world (i.e., print, TV and radio), along with a good number of online publications and blogs. Anyone can buy a subscription, but they start in the thousands, so it doesn’t make a lot of sense unless your startup is actually a PR agency. Don’t feel dismayed because there are plenty of ways to research that will only cost you time, not money.

Nearly every traditional outlet has a Web presence these days. Scroll to the bottom of any page, and you’ll find a link to an About, Contact Us or similarly named page. That’s where you’ll find the names, job titles and (hopefully) email addresses of the staff. But don’t stop there! Try to discern which people do what jobs. If you’re not sure, use Google to find job descriptions. For instance, a managing editor rarely writes or even assigns stories and a publisher, despite being “the boss,” almost never has a say in content. Even after you’ve narrowed your choices down to just reporters, keep digging. If you’ve developed the next Yelp, you want to reach the technology or small business reporter, NOT the food editor. And, finally, take a look at what the reporter has produced. A woman who writes a weekly column about small business might turn out to only be interested in tips and advice, not new small businesses.

You’ll want to do the same thing for each and every outlet you come across, whether they be local, national or international. If the outlet is a one-person blog, look at some blog posts first. If it’s a radio show, try to find old episodes online.

And if you’re ever not sure, call or email to find out. Reporters always appreciate a short email asking if they’re the right person for such-and-such story. Often, if they aren’t, they’ll direct you to the correct person.


Martin Stein is vice president of Pitch PR Powered by TrizCom PR

Pitch PR, a division of TrizCom PR, was created in partnership with The Dallas Entrepreneur Center (DEC) to assist startups & small business with their public relations needs. Through a unique partnership with the Dallas Entrepreneur Center (The DEC), Pitch PR is able to shepherd the communications objectives necessary for any PR strategy. Pitch PR admits that they are not one-size-fits-all; they can right-size according to the trajectory of the life in a startup environment. Pitch PR knows that media placement draws new customers as well as garners the attention of influencers, stakeholders and investors. Public Relations can shorten the awareness curve for brands. Pitch PR is geared for companies that have completed their initial funding round and believe in the possibility for high growth driven by powerful messaging in the media. From a simple PR 101 workshop, to a retainer-based strategy and action items to increase a brand’s public exposure, Pitch PR is ready to pitch and win. Ala carte services are available as well. For more information on Pitch PR call 972-247-1369 or www.PitchPR.co.  

Martin’s contact information: 
O: 972-247-1369
C: 972-215-6457
E: Martin@PitchPR.co
L: https://www.linkedin.com/in/martinlstein
T: https://twitter.com/DFW_Martin