The typical newsroom used to be a cacophony of sounds, from the clattering of computer keyboards to telephones ringing off the hook to the whizzing sound of newswire machines. These days, however, more and more reporters are filing their stories from their iPads, while the wire machines are long gone. Could the landline be next? The days of reporters and PR folks kibitzing via the telephone seem to be on the wane, as email becomes the primary mode of communication between the two parties.
With that in mind, here are several tips for how to communicate more effectively with the media via email, with a hat tip to Erika Kauffman, executive VP and general manager at 5W Public Relations.
1. Choose your angle and make it relevant. Relevance here is key, as the recipient needs to care about what you have written. More important, the recipient needs to think that his or her audience will care. Angle your email in a way that persuades your recipient(s) that others need to be exposed to what you are offering them. Add substance to your pitch and try to connect your overall note to something currently being covered in the news or to something pertinent in pop culture.
2. Identify and get to know your media list (before you start pitching). After you have identified a unique angle, the next step is building a list of media contacts that will be receptive to that angle. This requires a bit of homework...
3. Avoid hard sells. Reporters, producers and editors all receive hundreds of emails per day from PR reps pushing different companies, products, brands, services and more. In order to stand out against a sea of pitches, put yourself in the media’s shoes as the recipient and look at your note with a critical eye from their point of view.
4. Keep it brief but informative. The length of your email is vitally important when communicating with the media. You need to be brief but informative, but finding that perfect balance can prove to be surprisingly tricky. Your email is more likely to get dumped in someone’s trash bin if they have to keep scrolling just to get to the bottom or if your layout is too cluttered.
5. Proofread at least twice before hitting send. While this may seem like a no-brainer, do not overlook the importance of proofreading your email before sending. In a fast-paced work environment, you may be tempted to jump the gun and get your pitch out as soon as possible.
What would you add to the list?
To learn more about effective media relations, attend PR News’ Media Relations Next Practices Conference, which takes place December 11 at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C.
Follow Matthew Schwartz on Twitter: @mpsjourno1
Follow Erika Kauffman on Twitter: @erikakauffman