Media outreach presents a dynamic opportunity for brands to generate results. Comprised of pitches, press kits and persistence, effective media outreach presents brands to a wider audience than ever imagined. With the right tools, media outreach supports brand messaging with highly visual and interactive materials. While there is no “Easy Button” that guarantees a front-page spot for your pitch, there are a few best practices that can get your brand on media radars. Here are a few key ways to develop an impactful media outreach strategy.
The 2016 State of the Media Report noted that ninety-three percent of journalists cite email as the best pitching medium. When asked what medium they consider off limits in terms of pitching, phone (37 percent) and public social media pitches (30.2 percent) lead the way. According to this study, journalists prefer “comprehensive pitches with necessary details included tailored to their specific needs.”
So, how do you create eye-catching collateral with all the information needed for a successful pitch? The answer is simple. Press kits are an amalgamation of branded literature, photos and public relations information that forms a complete picture in the minds of media decision makers. These vibrantly designed packages can arrive in both print and digital formats, making them highly versatile and appropriate for multiple channels of communication.
The beauty of press packages is their customizability. While the branded exterior typically remains consistent in the form of a tangible folder or digital presentation layout, collateral and messaging can be interchanged depending on the pitch. For example, if a branded commercial just won an award, recordings or behind-the-scenes photography can accompany the press release included in the packet.
Crafting the Pitch
Arguably one of the most important parts of creating a media package is the pitch. Every day, media influencers are inundated with pitches on the phone, in the mail and through email. In this age of information, you will rarely see a highly read publication make an open call for pitches. Chances are, your favorite publication is already sourcing articles through press agencies, like the Associated Press or Reuters, word-of-mouth or personal sources. With all this competition, making a successful pitch may seem like a daunting task. Luckily, there are some best practices that can help your idea make a great first impression and generate results.
1. Get rid of the fluff. News editors are on a tight schedule, leaving them little time to thoroughly analyze each and every pitch. At most, pitches should be one to three paragraphs that answer these key questions: “Why, why now, and why this publication?” Make sure you use compelling language and, if applicable, powerful statistics. Sticking to this formula will show respect for the decision maker’s time while quickly pointing out the relevancy of your idea.
2. Pitching is a two-way street. While it may mean free promotion for your brand, press is also a reflection of the media outlet that picks it up. Editors are on the lookout for timely pieces that are relevant to their readership. Ensuring your pitch compliments the news outlet’s brand, core demographic and location will save time for everyone involved.
3. A good idea isn’t enough. While your pitch might be the most innovative, thought-provoking concept in PR history, you still have to do your homework. Take the time to thoroughly read the articles of your dream news outlet. Has it published similar articles in the past? Does it have certain sensitivities or biases on the subject? Do a deep-dive and make sure your pitch aligns with the news outlet’s previous work, style and tone.
4. A newspaper, isn’t a magazine, isn’t a blog. When you select the media outlet of your choice, be aware of their operational nuances. A magazine often plans content months in advance, so while your pitch may be timely now, it may not be timely in three months. While your idea may seem like small potatoes to a national publication, it could be front-page news to a hyper-local publication. Blogs usually reflect a personal brand, so be extra mindful of the relevancy of your pitch.
5. Always follow-up. Sending a press package via email or snail mail does not guarantee a call-back. If you haven’t received a response after three days, try a second email reminding the decision maker of your pitch. In this email, be sure to stress the relevancy and timeliness of your idea.
Building a Press Kit
After determining your list of media outlets and crafting an informative and relevant pitch, it’s time to create your press kit. But where do you start? Press packages offer a blank canvas for your pitch to come alive, so don’t be afraid to push the envelope, so to speak!
The Usual Suspects
Depending on the situation, press kits can include a wide variety of materials. Keeping this in mind, there are some constants you will find in pretty much every press kit.
1. The pitch. This is the moment you’ve been waiting for! Let your expert pitch take center stage. Don’t forget to include a business card or contact information immediately following the pitch. If you are including a wide variety of materials, consider mentioning a short description of each item for the recipient to review.
2. The company bio. Save the recipient a Google search by including a brief description of your company’s history. Now is the time to highlight your brand’s specialties and core values. Be sure to mention any recent awards, new products or newsworthy updates.
3. Recent press coverage. This is a press kit, after all! Press clippings will indicate your brand as relevant and popular while providing the recipient with some context.
After you address all the must-haves, include materials that will really take your press kit to the next level! These can include:
1. Unique packaging
2. Audio/video files
3. High-resolution images
4. Community service projects
5. Industry-specific fact sheets
6. Branded products
While the landscape of media relations can be unpredictable, there are a few tips and tricks that can put your brand in the spotlight. Remember to keep it timely, do the research and, most importantly, have fun. Happy pitching!