Back to Fundamentals: the Do’s and Don’ts of Contacting Journalists
I’m what’s affectionately recognized (hopefully) at Distilled as a ‘boomerang’. That’s I labored right here many moons in the past as Head of PR and now in the immortal phrases of, nicely 1,000,000 folks in 1,000,000 films, “I’m again child”.
One of the issues I’ve realized over the years, working with sensible folks in hard-working groups is the tendency to strive and run earlier than you possibly can stroll. So, with the profit of new experiences and hindsight, I’m gonna take you all again to the fundamentals of PR and outreach (particularly contacting journalists) with an inventory of do’s and don’ts.
While you’re in ‘getting shit finished’ mode it may be straightforward to flip right into a mega methodical machine – ticking by that to-do listing and hammering out hacks to make you as environment friendly as will be. However deal with bloggers and journalists as a mass group at your peril. Just a little personalisation goes a good distance. This is applicable to tone too. They’re simply folks at the finish of the day – don’t bamboozle them with company converse, or worse, advertising and marketing jargon. They don’t need to ‘contact base’, they simply need a blimmin’ good story!
Do not be mistaken for a robotic in your emails.
Golden rule: Learn your e-mail out loud. How does it sound? In case you wouldn’t say it (er, hello ‘variety regards’) then why write it?
Discover the story
To proceed in the identical vein, for journalists content material isn’t king, tales are. You possibly can have the greatest graphic, sport, quiz or visualisation in the world however in the event you can’t discover a related hook or peg – journalists received’t have an interest. Put the groundwork in and discover a related manner to pitch your piece. Is there a becoming (and well-known) anniversary developing? Can it’s tied to one thing topical that’s already being reported on? Or maybe you’ve an influencer you should utilize to make it extra newsworthy? No matter is it, discover a manner to hook your content material to the information or put together to be ignored.
Golden rule: This one’s fairly easy actually – learn the information! The extra you learn, the extra you realize. Plus, utilizing a information aggregator like Google News, you’ll have the ability to find out about the tales from completely different angles, permitting you to tailor your pitch to swimsuit particular person publications.
All of us have pet peeves. What could appear pedantic to many will actually piss off a number of. For many writers this peeve is as apparent because it sounds; writing! In case you e-mail them with sloppy grammar and spelling, don’t anticipate to be taken critically. We’re all responsible of making the odd typo or two however now just isn’t the time. Take care along with your pitch emails. Keep away from evil cliches and jargon, watch out with capitalisation, proofread, proofread, proofread and – most significantly, be sure to get their identify proper.
Ensure that your writing is bulletproof.
Golden rule: Even the largest grammar pedants amongst us (oh hai!) make errors. Use an extension like Grammarly to be tremendous assured you haven’t made any errors.
Be a salesman
You understand whenever you go to a division retailer to purchase one thing… You’re busy, you realize the place you want to be. You’re targeted on getting to the right-hand nook of ground three, grabbing the factor and getting the hell out of there. Now image this, you by chance look the gross sales man in the eye and he’s onto you. There’s no getting away now – you’re pressured to pay attention to some scripted gross sales patter about some shit you’ll by no means need, or want. You die a bit inside as you surprise how to politely inform him to ‘do one’.
And that’s how journalists really feel whenever you strive to persuade them your content material will work for them. In case you’ve made a good piece and discovered a good angle all you want to do is current it to them alongside the information. Don’t pepper your pitch with adjectives or inform them how nice the content material is. If it truly is nice, it’ll converse for itself – and journalists (they’re human, bear in mind) are sensible sufficient to make that judgement for themselves.
Golden rule: Do the work up entrance and the content material will promote itself.
Simply as it may be tempting to strive to ‘promote’ your piece, it may be tempting to over complicate too. Made an irreverent sport loosely hinged on politics? “Hey! Let’s peg it on the subsequent election and write a press launch on the professionals and cons of every UK political get together.” Hmm, or not. Why not peg it to the newest gaffe by no matter politician has most lately made an arse of themselves, and pitch it for what it’s – a bit of lighthearted enjoyable. Inform it how it’s, it’s a lot simpler for folks to perceive that manner.
This is applicable to pitch emails too. Don’t write reams and reams of clarification – simply ship a short synopsis and inform the journalists why you assume it’s related to them and their publication.
Golden rule: If doubtful, KISS (hold it brief and easy).
Journalists are inundated with calls and emails and their workloads are insane, so it’s honest to say the odd e-mail or two could slip by the internet. To this finish, being chased by PRs is par for the course so that they anticipate the odd comply with up or two and it’s completely wonderful to verify in and see in the event that they’re . However there’s a line. Following up is okay however pestering just isn’t cool. Not cool in any respect. In case you’ve emailed and known as a number of instances, quit the ghost, they’re not . Don’t demand suggestions and don’t burn bridges. Perhaps they’ll have an interest subsequent time.
Golden rule: Don’t assume simply because a journalist coated your final piece, they’ll cowl your subsequent. Relevance is essential. And in the event you make this assumption you’re at critical danger of pissing them off.
So there you’ve it, a again to fundamentals information that you simply’ll do nicely to remind your self of. We’re all responsible of selecting up the odd dangerous behavior or two alongside the course of our careers however, in the event you begin at the starting, and get the fundamentals proper, you’ll stand a a lot better probability of success.