The media want to cover your organization and its goings-on. Problem is, they have limited resources and need YOUR help putting together compelling stories. So, in order for everyone to succeed, you need to know a few things.
Here are 44 things the media wish you knew:
- Not everything your organization does is newsworthy
- A press release, while still a useful outreach tool, is rarely enough on its own
- How to think like a reporter
- That they’re often overworked and underpaid
- That they use and are active on social networks
- When their deadlines are
- Not to contact journalists near their deadlines
- Rich media – video, photos – helps them understand what you’re trying to say
- The medium via which they like to receive pitches
- How to write a compelling email subject line
- That Twitter is a great way to interact pre, during and after a story pitch
- That you should help them with something before asking them to cover you
- Jargon confuses consumers of content
- That sometimes, even if you pitch perfectly, you get no coverage
- What news is
- That corporate messaging goals and good journalism are often at odds
- How to create and use a social media release
- That bloggers aren’t journalists (except when journalists blog)
- That citizens aren’t journalists just because Twitpic, Instagram and Yfrog allow them to snap and share pics quickly and easily
- How to write a press release
- Media is the filter not the enemy
- That they’ll sometimes behave like a pack of sheep
- The importance of displaying your contact info in a clear, easy to find way
- They make mistakes (often)
- People who work in industries in crisis – i.e. media – worry a lot
- Loads of PR people pitch loads of crap
- That, in some cases, you need to pay or ship truckloads of swag in order to get editorial coverage (really)
- That some of them remain confounded by the internet
- The value of transparency
- That the audience/news relevance of a story pitch needs to be spelled out clearly
- That their beats change and they’re forced to learn new things very quickly
- Slanted coverage is inevitable
- That there are slow periods of the year, during which your not-so-newsworthy pitch will get play
- That sometimes the busy-ness of journalism means big delays in replying to you
- That leaving insightful blog comments and sharing their content makes them extra happy
- Leaving inane comments on their blog posts, like “Great post, dude” is vexing
- The time-sensitivity of their work
- Saying thanks is, and will always be, appreciated
- That tough interview questions are not personal attacks
- Video is the medium of the internet age
- That spin is downright annoying
- The utter importance of saying it quick and clear
- That, like you, they are just human
- Once again, that not everything your organization does is newsworthy!
If those people who compiled this list would act accordingly, it would be dramatically shorter, I guess.
Great post, dude!! (hehe, just kidding)
1. write short, specific and concise press releases, the journalist may use it for for word in his/her article because they don’t have the time to re-write everything.
2. Take the time to build a relationship with the journalist
3. Gratitude takes different forms, be creative
Ligia! Thanks for stopping by 🙂 Nice add.
45. That they don’t like being promised something which turns out to be a complete fabrication, thus making journo look like an idiot to their editor and scrambling to fix at the 11th hour
46. Could they please read requests properly?
47. Could they familiarise themselves with the section/slot/mag/paper to which they’re appealing so they don’t ask you repeated question they should already know if they’d done their job properly
48. Journalists WILL remember if you mislead them so it’s not worth overpromising and under-delivering
Helpful stuff. Thanks very much Sarah 🙂
49. Learn the right meaning of the word “byline”.
50. Don’t phone up just to ask each journalist if they got the email, even if your client wants you to, because it is just plain irritating.
While I agree with #50 in some contexts, my experience has been that follow-up is not always bad. This seems largely due to the fact that journos receive a whole lot of missives (via email and other media)
I’m mixed on the Twitter; I’ve had success and not. Think some reporters/bloggers appreciate it, others don’t use it as much for networking, research. It’s like the ‘great post dude’ comments – when they know that the Twitter engagement is mostly for a pitch. #15 is of course what matters most, news – real news – in a human context that their audience will want to read and hear.
To add to these, build on #30 – pitches and releases need correct grammar and spelling; get it right the first time. Agree w Sarah, about not promising what you can’t deliver. Have the other pieces they need; great value in having the video, photos, stats, experts to give their stories the depth they need. FWIW.
Thanks for sharing your perspective Davina! Always appreciate it 🙂
51. Take no for an answer. Don’t start your spiel just because you have someone on the phone. It makes you sound desperate and unprofessional. I hate being rude but sometimes I have to blow someone off.