5 Tips for Pitching Your Story in the 24/7 Web World

20 11 2009

Guest blogger: Media relations expert Jessica Killenberg, Vice President – Account Services, Bianchi PR      

       According to a recent 2009 Journalist Survey on Media Relations Practices by Bulldog Reporter/TEKgroup International, Web demands are “insane” for journalists. Digital media often requires more work without more staff. In some cases, triple the amount of output volume is expected from journalists, who are expected to feed the voracious web monster 24/7.

         As PR practitioners, we must be mindful of the strain journalists are under and be respectful when pitching story ideas. So, how can we help journalists cut through the clutter and deliver content that is applicable to their readers?

        Here are five tips that can help YOU help THEM:

 1.      It all starts with a well-tailored media list. And by that we mean pitching the right story to the right reporter on the right beat. There are plenty of resources that can help you accomplish this MediAtlas, Cision, specific publication Web sites, etc. You can also use Wikipedia as a starting point for media in a particular city or Google for publication categories, such as “healthcare management magazines” or “automotive aftermarket magazines.”

 2.      Opt for targeted one-on-one media pitching. While mass distribution of a news release is often standard, in most cases a targeted pitch to a few key media can bring the results you are ultimately looking for. Develop your media “wish list” and go for it one at a time. Keeping in mind that your topic needs to be worthy of that publication and its audience. Unfortunately, not every story idea will be front page Wall Street Journal material, but it could be just the right story for a key trade or local publication.

 3.      Provide the reporter with as much background information as possible. But make sure the information is synthesized for ease of use. Provide key points and important data. This can be in the form of a brief fact sheet, backgrounder or a chart/graph. It can even be past news releases, if they help provide bench depth on the topic you are pitching.

 4.      Have appropriate expert sources available. Not only within your organization, but perhaps outside as well, so the reporter can get the complete story. For example, consumers of your product, participants in your study, beneficiaries of your charitable contribution, etc. And make sure those sources are well prepared with a briefing memo that contains possible questions, talking points and information on the reporter and publication. 

 5.      Have hi-res images ready. We can’t say this enough … “EVERYONE READS PICTURES” and with every story you pitch, you ought to make sure there is a high-resolution image to go along with it. It will certainly help increase the chances of your story making it in print. For print publications, you’ll want to provide 300 to 600 dpi (dots per inch) images in a .jpg format. For newspapers, 300 dpi in a .jpg format will work best. And for online publications, resolution is irrelevant, as the web image will need to expand or shrink to 72 dpi due to computer monitor settings.

        Any other tips come to mind? Let us know …

Five Lean Steps to Stretch Your PR Budget

6 11 2009

It’s no secret that corporate PR clients are under increasingly intense pressure to do more with less – less money, less staff and less time. If there’s anything we can learn from the product design and manufacturing industries, it’s that there are ways to make our PR processes leaner – that is, more efficient, faster and at higher quality levels.

As overworked executives, corporate PR folks are often forced to be reactive. To keep tasks moving, they pass them off to their staff or their agency as soon as possible … sometimes just a little too soon.

In many cases, we can go faster by starting slowly. By forcing ourselves to take extra time upfront, we gain the benefit of considering the entire task at hand – from start to finish. We can gather everything needed to accomplish the task. And we can identify and explain our goals, preferences and specifications to those who will be involved.

Here are five steps that can help accelerate your PR projects, while stretching your budget by cutting costs, eliminating re-work and reducing cycle time:

1) Take the time to define the project in detail – approach, objectives, resources, timing, budget, targets, key messages, etc.;

2) Once the project is defined, share this definition with the internal people who will be involved in the final approval, so there’s a consensus of purpose. Get them on-board and alerted to the timing at the onset. For example, on news release projects, we’ve found that nothing causes more delays and changes than the approval process … in some cases this back-and-forth can double or triple the project’s total cost;

3) Once internal alignment is secured, gather and pass all the necessary information to the staff or agency person who’s going to handle the project. The more complete the information and direction provided upfront, the more likely the first iteration will be on-target … meaning less or no re-work (as well as more satisfaction);

4) Start working immediately on artwork, photos or video needed to support the project. There’s no sense in streamlining the writing portion of the project if the artwork delays the project’s completion or adds rush charges in order to meet the deadline; and

5) After the project is completed, identify improvements that could be made to your process for the next project.

What have you done to make your PR processes leaner?


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