How do you avoid March Media Madness?
Given the number of upsets in this year’s NCAA March Madness Basketball Tournament, we thought it was a good time to share some of advice our media friends and colleagues have provided us on how not to UPSET THEM when pitching:
Google before Going for It
As most of us have now learned from Joe Goldberg on You, finding information is often just a Google and social media search away. Never pitch a member of the media without at least doing a Google and social media search on them to see what they cover and how. Not having access to a media database is no longer a reason for not knowing whom you are pitching and why.
Mass Email at Your Own Peril
Ever get an email from your second-aunt once-removed or third-cousin only to open it and see it is a generic, informal meme or joke of the day? Or worse, a super vague update on something that in no way relates to you? Try being a member of the media! Many get hundreds of mass emails sent on a daily basis with little to no effort made to customize the message to them or their outlet. Stand out by personalizing your work. Use every email as a chance to make a human connection. It matters, and the media notices when it is authentic. Think of it as media relationSHIPs versus media relations.
Thou Shalt Never Send a PDF, Ever
Many members of the media need to get sign-off from an editor, director or other colleague before jumping on a story pitch. Make it easy for them to copy your information, edit for their outlet and send it on for the green light by simply pasting it into the email. Sending a PDF wastes time. A member of the media has to open it, copy the portion they need (never easy – especially not from a phone or tablet) and then re-format it for an email. Then they can add their notes. Don’t send a Word doc, either. Just copy and paste into the body of an email. I promise. The media will thank you.
Low-Res Photos are a No-Go
Guess what you should do just above where you paste the pitch or news release in a body of an email? Send an open link to download hi-res images. If they are not hi-res images, DON’T SEND THEM TO MEDIA UNLESS THE OUTLET IS SOLELY WEB-BASED. Traditional media cannot use photos that are less than 1-2MB and 300 dpi. Simply right click on any image to see if it meets the size requirements. If it doesn’t, be honest with the media and offer ways to get them higher-res images. HMA actually invested in several hi-res cameras a few years back to ensure we are always able to deliver on images we’ve promised in our media relations efforts.
So is a Photo Approval Process
When sending a link to hi-res images, always ensure it isn’t a link to a website where the media has to apply to access it and wait for human approval. Why? Most media members work off-hours on nights and weekends – and they are often on deadline. By making photo access a process, you may miss out on a massive media opportunity, especially if the media can’t access images within his/her deadline.
Understand the Media’s Position
Whether working with a freelancer, reporter, editor, producer or other, understand that this person is neither an ad rep nor your research assistant. Seek out the clip from the story yourself. Ask the ad department about ad values and circulation numbers. Don’t risk the relationship with the media member, who likely doesn’t have that information and is working remotely, by assuming it is their job to get you all reporting materials for your brand or client.
Communications through a Crisis
Finally, when working with a media member during a crisis communications issue, always be transparent, cognizant of deadlines and communicative even if the answer is “there is no answer as of yet.”