Most people assume that PR isn’t a perfected practice. They believe that press and media coverage are guaranteed simply by sending out a pitch with a creative, well-thought out title, accompanied by high-resolution photos that are bound to make the eyes of a close contact sparkle. While a strategically planned pitch and aesthetically pleasing visuals are a key ingredient of success, there are other guidelines to follow that can greatly improve your clients’ chances at landing on the publications of their dreams.
These are the core dos and don’ts of PR that will help you get the best coverage possible:
One of the most important PR tips is to know your market. It’s easy to assume that your company or product will automatically stand out and we’re all passionate and proud of our creations. But, in today’s oversaturated media market, it can be difficult to find the right angle to pitch your story. Researching competitors and getting acquainted with your audience are both crucial to sharing your story. You always want to be the most educated and well-versed person in the room.
DON’T: Stalk and harass journalists
Without pitching journalists, there is no chance at coverage. However, you don’t want to embody a serial killer stalker (you know, like Ghostface in Scream), and harass your prey. It’s important to pitch to relevant journalists and to follow their work, but remember! They are not your friends. They don’t want you to add them on Facebook, connect with them on LinkedIn, or send them a selfie on Snapchat. Relationships with journalists are delicate. While they do want to be approached for relevant stories, they don’t want to be bombarded with messages, emojis, or whatever the latest social media messaging craze is at the moment.
DO: Think outside the box
Creativity is your greatest PR tool. Thousands of stories are pitched daily, so what makes your story stand out from a crowded inbox? Do you know how to communicate your story in an original and effective way? Be informal; which means, friendly and drop the stuffy, mundane pleasantries. Find ways to relate to your contact, while still giving them a new piece of information to digest. The best pitch, one that instantly catches a writer’s attention, will have a creative title, a funny GIF, or strong personalization. If your story isn’t strong enough, dig deep and push outside of your comfort zone to identify the most interesting detail in their announcement – and highlight it! Be bold and try something new.
DON’T: Expect coverage
Even with an excellent PR strategy and strong research, many stories don’t get covered. Journalists receive hundreds of pitches a day, and the competition can be tough. It’s important to personalize every pitch and familiarize yourself with journalists and their work. The more you learn about your target, the more effective your pitches will be.
DO: Thicken your skin
PR isn’t for the faint of heart. Even if you write creative pitches, research your market, and map the perfect list of journalists, you will experience rejection. Receiving feedback from colleagues and journalists is a critical component to your success, as well. Consider the word “no” as you new best friend and learn to love it and even embrace it. If you can do that and let it ignite you, then you will become the ultimate PR rockstar.
DON’T: Be elitist
Sometimes the story is so big, that you’re convinced Forbes, TechCrunch and other top-tier publications are the only worthy recipients of your pitch. And while your pitch really is THAT good, don’t forget about all of the niche publications who can help promote your message further and expand your audience. All PR is good PR, right? So, extra coverage should always be pursued.
Now that we’ve laid out the dos and don’ts of successful PR, you’re ready to get in the game. Remember that research will get you to first base, but creativity will get you a home run. You need to play ball with journalists and be prepared to strike out sometimes. The best PR professionals are the ones who always step back up to the plate.