In addition to working in public relations, I write for about two dozen media outlets across Arizona. (And if you didn’t know – I write about travel, luxury resorts, spirits and wine from all over the world as well as Arizona chefs, restaurants, cocktails, beer, resorts, golf, events and hospitality leaders. Click here for a good rundown and samples. )
Given this side hustle, I get about 100 emails from public relations pros each day (more leading up to holidays). In addition, I often have the opportunity to “talk shop” with fellow media members and take part in online groups and message boards with media folks from all over the world.
Over time, I’ve talked to many of them about the same thing: best practices for pitching media. Here are some things to consider before you send your next pitch:
- Just say “no” to the PDF: No member of the media wants a PDF version of your pitch, media kit, client bio, news release or media advisory. And there is a valid reason why: they are hard to copy and paste. Often, the media has to “pitch” your idea to a boss or producer. As such, we NEED a turnkey way to grab the information and repurpose it from our desktop, laptop or (most often) our phones. In addition, we prefer to copy and paste the more technical or specific aspects of the pitch (data, research, quotes, long company names) or media materials to avoid our own “user error.”
- Link photos, please: Most PR folks know not to send 10MB hi-res images in an email. But, many don’t know that “adding us to your dropbox” folder is often a nightmare. Here is why: not all of us have paid dropbox or other photo sharing accounts. Therefore, adding us to your dropbox means we have to accept to get the images – and sometimes our boxes are full. We can’t accept. We can’t access the photos! Instead, simply copy the link to the sharing folder and send to us to direct download the pics. Oh, and if using another type of “must sign in to download” photo service (the bane of my existence), please tell us the password to get in!
- Understand what “hi-res” means: if you copy and paste a photo from social media or a website and send with a release…we cannot use it. It does not transfer as high resolution. Google “general photo requirements” and make sure your client has said photos ahead of time. Don’t make us ask – save us the time and be our hero.
- Google stalk like crazy: Not a day goes by that I don’t get a pitch saying “I’d love for you to consider this for your blog,” or “this event is this weekend and I would love for you to cover,” or “can you add this to your website,” or “this is a great fit for your calendar.” Here is what is wrong with these requests: I don’t have a blog. I have a lead time of 60 to 90 days. I don’t have a website. I don’t do calendar stories. And here is the thing: if you google “Alison Bailin” or “Alison Bailin Batz” all of those things are pretty clear from my online bio, LinkedIn, Twitter, Instagram, et al. Googling media and then following them on their platforms (especially Twitter and Instagram) is also a best practice.
- Story stalk, too: Go beyond Googling a media member and his or her beat…actually click through some of their stories. Learn their style and preferences. Make note of them and pitch smarter, not harder.
- People like when you use their names…as long as you spell them right: As an “Alison” with one “l” who works with an “Abbie” with an “ie” and has a cousin named “Linsey” with no “d” as well as a friend named “Lindsay” with an “a,” I really do try to get people’s names right. Pitching a member of the media without checking that you have the spelling of their name is right takes like 30 seconds. Invest in those extra 30 seconds! (And yes, we all know mistakes and “fat thumbs” happen – but at least try!)
These are just a few of my helpful hints to putting the “relations” into your “public relations” game. I will have more next week as well. Stay tuned!