Tips for Keeping Stakeholders Informed About Media Pitching

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A scenario all too familiar to PR pros is a lack of coverage for your brand’s message in publications and on sites. You know the frustration.

But imagine how it plays for executives who’ve written articles or been interviewed and are waiting for placement. The anxiety also touches other stakeholders, such as marketers, anxious to present potential clients with essays and blog posts featuring favorable mentions of the brand and its executives.

Let’s face it, no update from PR often means there’s been no coverage. Worse, it might appear to stakeholders that PR has done nothing to get coverage. As PR pros we know this rarely is the case, but it can appear to be so to outsiders.

One way to reduce anxiety around this process is for PR to maintain weekly contact with stakeholders.

It’s PR’s job to provide marketers and other stakeholders with a week-to-week update of where things stand. For diligent PR pros this should be relatively straightforward. They know where every piece of content is and be able to keep track of the moving parts, whether content is being created, approved or pitched.

To get this process started, providing a clear representation of PR’s pitching activities is necessary. PR should share a plan at the outset and then update the status of every pitching activity. This may seem like common sense, but all too often this simply isn’t the case. A basic tracking document can work wonders to bolster the relationship between PR and executives elsewhere in the company. In addition this document should form the basis of every discussion around pitching so progress can be tracked meeting to meeting.

More Collaboration

Still, getting coverage is not a one-way street. The best marketing managers and PR pros know coverage starts with collaboration between PR and other parts of the company. The result should be a steady pipeline of content carrying key messages that speak to topics of interest to media members and their readers.

Look at all coverage with a critical eye. Total coverage is a good starting point when reporting on the success of a campaign. But what if the majority of clippings are one-line mentions in irrelevant publications? PR pros should agree with stakeholders on a tier-one publication list at the start of a campaign or effort. This will ensure your message is targeted to the publications with the audience your brand wants to reach.

Then you need a deeper dive. While PR pros are intimately familiar with the nature of media coverage, your stakeholders may not be. How much of the coverage are news items from press release distributions? How many are features that began with your pitch to a journalist? Have your executives been quoted from interviews? Are we securing enough thought-leadership articles with by-lines from your executives? If pitching goals are geographically oriented, this must be measured, too. Likewise, if a campaign is targeting certain vertical markets, then marketers need to get an idea of the weighting of coverage across each one. This allows for corrections and strategy changes to make sure they reflect business goals.

As we know, transparency is often mentioned as the key to good corporate behavior. As we've seen it can be useful during the pitching process too.

James Rose is head of content strategy at IBA International