Working with the media can sometimes be intimidating, well journos can be, until you get to know us. Gosh, even I get scared of them sometimes.
I’ve worked as a journalist and editor for my entire career – over 15 years – even now that I own and run a business, I’m still writing for magazines and online platforms and editing a magazine.
But I’ve also worked in public relations on the other side of the media, so I get it. It can be scary and sometimes journos are short and gruff. I’ll make no excuses but I do know the media as we know is a shrinking space and journos are being inundated with more work, more platforms to be all over and the same number of hours in the day.
Aside from that, I work with clients and speak on the subject of working with the media and how to work it so it doesn’t work you.
There’s a secret to working the media and that is simply to build a relationship with the journalists you want to target. Go find them, email them and start sending them awesome story pitches – ones you haven’t sent to other journalists. Give them exactly what they need to publish your story – and they most likely will.
Here are a few notes from a speaking gig I did recently for the Publicity Genie, Annette Densham. If you’re looking to do your own PR, this chick is all over it. She’s an ex-News Ltd and Fairfax journo with a wealth of experience in PR and the working with the media.
What makes a good story?
- Human interest – informative/educational/entertaining
- Timing – is it urgent? Does it coincide with the time of year or a special event?
- Is it an Australian first?
- Does it have shock factor?
- Statistics/research you’ve completed – what are the results and how are they relevant?
- Famous people/high profile people – are you working with someone special the media will want to know about?
- Trends – what’s happening in your industry?
Mistakes people make when sending their story in?
- Making it way too commercial – you have to think like a reader.
- Either not giving enough info or giving too much info.
- Content is too technical or has too much industry jargon threaded throughout it. Keep it simple.
- No pitch and no angle. Make it relevant to the publication.
- No image attached – give us everything we need to be able to run it. Then we can call you if we need anything further.
- Remember you are dealing with the journos – don’t say anything you don’t want printed!
- Asking to see the story before it’s published
- Missing deadlines
How to become a valuable media source
- Make it really easy for the journo to say yes to you.
- Give them great pitches, press releases, high res images, stay in touch with story ideas that they will find relevant for their readers.
- Send them products if you can.
- Don’t annoy them…the media landscape has changed and these poor buggers are under the pump – overworked and stressed.