By Alex Altman
Driving reporters to media events is one of the most important jobs for PR professionals. Naturally, it’s also one of the most difficult. Reporters are time-strapped, unpredictable, and inherently cautious of giving away free publicity. These are some pretty hefty barriers. But with the right brand of salesmanship, they can be overcome.
If low turnouts have become all-too-common at your PR events, there’s a strong possibility that your media pitch is lacking. The media pitch is often the biggest factor in convincing a reporter to cover this event instead of that event. Here are some tips to elevate your media pitch.
Make it Personal: Mass media advisories may have worked in the past, but today it’s all about personalization. Craft unique notes to each reporter suggesting clearly and concisely why he would benefit from covering your event. Whether it’s the nature of the reporter’s beat, an opportunity for an exclusive interview, or a chance to get in good with a new source, reporters will be much more likely to attend your event if they can benefit personally.
Get to the Point: Reporters don’t have the time or desire to read through a 500-word essay about the merits of attending your media event. Provide the basic facts (the five Ws), a compelling hook, and a strong quote or two, and then get out of the way.
Take a Beat: Every journalist has a beat — a subject area that he is assigned to cover and write about. Make sure the beat of the reporter you’re contacting corresponds with the subject matter of your media pitch.
Give Notice: Reporters are often responsible for producing multiple bylines in a single day. Given their busy schedules, don’t expect them to drop everything they’re doing at a moment’s notice to attend your event. Instead, give them at least 3-4 days to plan accordingly.
Return the Favor: If a media outlet is kind enough to cover your story, offer quid pro quo by sharing page links to the article on your own (and your client’s) social media channels. This will boost page visits to the publication’s website and make the publisher very happy.
No FOMO: Reporters don’t care about other publications that picked up the story you’re pitching. If anything, weaponing FOMO (Fear of Missing Out) is going to make reporters less tempted to cover your event since their publication has already been beat to press.