Targeting the Media Q&A
Last week, I presented Targeting the Media, a free Cision webinar, with Senior Vice President of Global Marketing and Product Marketing Vanessa Bugasch and Director of Media Research Valerie Lopez. The webinar examined how to reach the appropriate media and develop relationships with journalists. We received a lot of great questions, some of which we didn’t get a chance to answer during the presentation. We’ve tackled a couple of them here instead.
Ashley: How do you say “no” to a small blogger’s interview request without making them upset?
Andrea: It’s a good idea to be apologetic and offer a brief explanation for why the interview request was denied. Whether it’s because you’re too busy or just aren’t interested, the blogger will appreciate your honest response. If it’s feasible, suggest an interview further down the road. As it was noted in the webinar, it’s about developing and building a relationship.
Elizabeth: When you are working with stories that are all over the country, how do you ensure your press release is at least considered? We don’t have the means of building relationships as our stories are rarely in the same city or state.
Andrea: As Vanessa noted in the webinar, sending out a release using the “spray and pray” method might get you the same numerical results as if you researched each contact individually, but you’re taking a big risk. Spending some extra time to make sure you’re pitching the right person is going to pay huge dividends in the long term. It’s better to spend time making sure your release is hitting its intended targets rather than cleaning up the mess of dealing with angry journalists who got a misdirected and untargeted release.
Fred : I’m all for targeting specific beat writers/reporters, however, does that mean I ignore the assignment editors altogether? I’ve had reporters tell me to go through the editors on more than one occasion as they have the final say on what they report.
Andrea: Each outlet is different so it’s a good idea to send a quick e-mail beforehand to ask if the assignment editor or reporter is the best person to pitch. Sometimes assignment editors generate all content so pitching a reporter is useless. However, if you can craft a unique pitch addressing why the story is interesting, the reporter is armed with the best ammo to sell the pitch to his or her editor.
Debbie : What’s the best advice you would give for PR students?
Andrea: Recent television shows, both reality-based and scripted, have vaulted public relations to a pretty glamorous profession. However, being a good public relations practitioner involves a lot of grunt work and hours of legwork done far away from the fabulous life of sipping martinis and mingling with famous people. Public relations is about building and maintaining relationships. Taking the time to become interested and invested in both your clients and the industries they serve is the best way to launch a successful public relations career.
Kyle : I occasionally put together an e-mail of hot topics surrounding our business industry which I send to business editors and reporters that cover my industry. In your opinion, is this a good idea or is this something that may hurt my relationship.
Andrea: Any time you automatically send something to a journalist without asking if they’re interested, you’re taking a risk. It sounds like you’ve taken the time get to know the industry and provide a really valuable service to some journalists. It is a good idea to send a quick e-mail asking if they’re interested in receiving the information and include a few brief samples of the information without bombarding them with the entire document. If they’re interested, they’ll respond and let you know.
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