A public relations contact can be a journalist's greatest asset - or an unhelpful voice that's quickly silenced. The difference is not in the goals you set - after all, you need journalists, and they need you - but in how you execute said goals.
Keep reading for four things that journalists wish every public relations professional knew.
1. Target Pitches From a Place of Service
A recent report from Mynewsdesk surveyed thousands of journalists to find out why they often have a negative view of brand storytelling, and what PR contacts can do to improve their relationship with reporters. The three biggest issues that journalists said turn them off are when a PR pitch focuses on the brand's needs instead of the writer's, that PR professionals are "always looking to sell something" and that stories from brands lack the journalistic discipline to make it into the media.
So, the very first step toward making yourself an indispensable, go-to resource for your journalist contacts is targeting your pitches from an angle that serves them. What can you and your clients offer that a given reporter needs?
2. Research the Journalist and Their Publication
The message from journalists is clear: The "spray and pray" approach to making public relations contacts just doesn't work, and it might even hurt your credibility with that journalist in later communications. And credibility is essential: Of the journalists surveyed in the Mynewsdesk study, the credibility of the individual or company making a pitch was the number one factor they cited that would influence whether they follow up on a story pitch. Start building that credibility from the outset by researching both the journalist and their publication. When your pitches are customized and localized not just to the journalist's topic area but the type of story they cover in that niche, it's much easier to make yourself into a useful asset.
3. Reach Out Proactively
Don't wait until you need to get a client in the news before you reach out to journalists. Instead, get in touch beforehand to find out how and when the press prefers to be contacted, what sort of stories they typically work on, and to offer yourself as a resource. More than three out of four journalists in the Mynewsdesk survey named their personal network as the first place they look for sources -- so when your first impression doesn't come with an "ask" attached, you're more likely to have the journalist's ear when you need it. And even if a writer turns out not to be a good fit for your current portfolio, you'll have made a respectful first impression on somebody that might need your help in the future.
4. Make Your Pitches Concise and Complete
Journalists often juggle multiple stories on tight deadlines -- so get straight to the point in your pitches, and make sure the press release or pitch contains everything the journalist needs to turn it into a story right away. While offering an interview with a thought leader or expert is great -- in fact, reporters in the Mynewsdesk survey named that as the second biggest factor that influences their interest in following up on a pitch -- pairing the interview opportunity with relevant, insightful quotes the journalist can use right away is even better. Add in relevant tidbits that make the story more newsworthy, like interesting biographical facts or great photos and multimedia, and the journalists will love you.
Would you like to know more about what journalists think when they see your emails pop up in their inbox? Download the full report onPR tips from journalists today.