In addition to being a part of the HMA team for 15 years, over the past decade I’ve made a hobby of freelance writing. While it started out as a fun creative outlet, over the years I’ve taken so many lessons with me back to the office when it comes to working effectively with the media.
There are three that are essential to developing long-lasting, true relationships with the media. These are also three that I sometimes don’t see being done on a regular basis, so I wanted to share, each focused on different ways to illustrate a common-sense approach to media outreach.
Not a day goes by when I don’t get a blanket, generic pitch on the topics of technology, economic development or events happening over the weekend. But here is the thing: I neither write about technology nor economic development. So, if pitching me on that topic, I know right away that I am just on some generic media list, and that the person sending the email didn’t bother to quickly google me. And, though I do cover events, I work with long-lead media on major event coverage, meaning if the event is just a few days away, the PR person missed the mark by about 60 days. I always try my best to show reporters and other members of the media that I know who they are and what they do, not just that I sent off an email to x amount of people. It matters. The media notices who takes the extra time to work smarter not harder.
Anyone who pitches me regularly knows that writing is my hobby, and that I am a full-time public relations professional, meaning I am busy during the work day with clients and my team. As a fellow PR person, I know it is critical to capture media clips of client coverage, but cannot tell you the number of times I have PR folks emailing me asking (or even assuming) I clip coverage for them – sometimes going so far as to ask for links, JPEGS and PDFs of stories where I used their clients (and sometimes in even more formats than that!). Even worse, they forget how far ahead I work and email regularly asking when certain stories are coming out, rather than simply going back to our conversations (always written in email), where I explain what month and date to expect the story to run. Whether using Google, a clipping service or just being smart enough to go to the media outlet’s website to check, always work toward getting your own clips before asking any media member to get them for you.
This is a biggie. As noted above, I am a freelancer. That means I work with editors on columns and stories. That also means I don’t work in the media outlet’s office, nor do I work with their marketing or ad reps. But, not a week goes by when I don’t get a request from a PR person to share the reach, circulation, impressions, ad equivalency value and/or other details about the outlet. Again, common sense says to simply visit the media outlet’s website and review their media kit. Or, call the ad rep and ask for the data, which they are always happy to provide.