By Emily Thomas
Buzz. Click. Ping.
How many times in the last hour have you heard your smartphone vibrate, your email ping or or one of your social media sites sound an alert? Probably more times than you can count. And you’re not alone.
CNN reported a study that showed smartphone owners check their phones for email, messages and social media notifications 34 times a day. That’s in addition to time spent on computers checking email, Websites and the like.
This frequent communication is great for staying in touch with friends and family, but the volume of communication has made media pitching tougher for PR pros. Journalists, like everyone else, are becoming better at tuning out inbound communications – including media pitches. You can imagine how an inbox packed with pitches could have that effect.
So how can we break through this? Below are four tips for breaking free from the crowd and getting the attention of journalists.
Check your watch
Since a reporter’s email inbox is constantly flooded with story ideas, it’s crucial to optimize when you pitch yours. For example, you should avoid pitching at the end of the work day or sending out a press release on a Friday afternoon. Choosing the right time to pitch a story or send a news release can reduce the odds of getting lost in an overcrowded inbox.
Do your research
Many publications post editorial calendars online. Getting to know the schedule for each outlet you’re researching will boost pitching success rate. Targeting a weekly business journal? Most hit the stands on Friday but go to print on Wednesday – meaning Tuesday nights or Wednesday mornings are terrible times to pitch. Reporters and editors at monthly publications will tend to be busier certain weeks of each month, depending on when exactly they go to press. Get to know these cycles and reach out to journalists when they are less stressed and have the time to concentrate and read through your pitch.
Today we must be creative in how we approach journalists. For example, a PR professional recently sent an editor at Fast Company magazine a Twitter video pitch that landed her a coffee meeting. The request was eye-catching and unusual. Creativity can help break through the chatter and impress journalists who are used to seeing uninspired pitches all day long.
Find your perfect match
Generic media lists don’t make the cut anymore. Naturally, not every story will be newsworthy for every media outlet, but assuming there is some real news value to your pitch, I can practically guarantee that somewhere there’s a journalist or publication that will be interested. The more research you do on reporters (what stories they’ve covered, their beats, what they are sharing on their Twitter accounts, etc.), the closer you can get to making a connection and following up on a story. Personalizing your pitches for specific journalists helps considerably in breaking through the clutter and earning a story.
In the endless stream of emails, tweets, status updates and blog posts, PR professionals must work harder and smarter than ever before. The pitch that’s the most relevant, targeted and personal wins. So before you reach for your smartphone, send an email or share a social media update, make sure you’re using the right form of communication. Personalization isn’t a luxury anymore; it’s a necessity.
Photo courtesy of Ian Lamont via www.digitalmediamachine.com.
By Emily Thomas