Sep 25, 2012

4 Keys to the Successful Digital PR Pitch

The key to garnering digital exposure for your messages? Easy. Don’t handicap your messages by ignoring all the different ways your intended targets might use the content you publish. Make it easy and intuitive for people to share your messages with their networks.

I’m active on LinkedIn, and it’s not unusual for me to hear from a recruiter every now and then.  Last week, one sent me a note about an interesting sounding job.  While I had zero interest in the gig, I know others in my social networks might be interested.  So, instead of ignoring this message, I responded to the recruiter, asking if she had any publicly-available information so I could share it with my network.

She sent me an attachment. 

This reminded me of an exchange we had once with a heavy hitter editor from one of our sister company’s leading technology magazines.  When asked what his PR pet peeve was, he had a ready answer.   Email pitches that didn’t include a URL that he could tweet, link to and share.

Consider how your audience will use the content you share. 

In both cases, the people contacting the targets (the recruiter contacting me, and a PR person contacting the editor) either don’t understand or aren’t considering what behaviors their communications inspire.    The recruiter assumed that when I said “share with my network” that I was talking about e-mail.  The PR person is assuming that the outcome is going to be traditional media pick up in the form of a print story.

By letting these assumptions drive their communications strategies, both miss out on significant opportunities for exposure.   For public relations especially, the lessons are important:

  • When you’re targeting media and influencers, take the time to research and understand how their beats and responsibilities have changed.   Most journalists who write for a print publication are also creating digital content and sharing content in social networks.  Even if your story doesn’t make the print publication, exposure on the outlet’s digital channels can be immensely valuable (and may reach an even larger audience!)
  • Tailor your pitches accordingly.  The e-mail pitch that includes the press release pasted into the body of the email (and then attached for good measure!) is dead.

Here are four keys to ensuring your PR pitch isn’t out of step with the realities of today’s news rooms, social networks and the blogosphere:

  1. Provide links to digital assets (images, videos, infographics) in your pitch.
  2. Include links  to the story and other information the journalist can reference and share.
  3. Structure your pitches and press releases with tweeting in mind.  The headline needs to be a perfect tweet.  Highlight key themes with paragraph subheads (in bold so they’re easy to see) that are also perfect tweets.   Call out key facts in a bulleted list.
  4. Ensure the URLs you provide render well when shared on Facebook, Pinterest, Google+ and LinkedIn, rather than displaying HTML gobbledygook to users of those networks.

In other words, make it dead easy for journalists, bloggers and other influencers  to share your story with their respective social networks.  Decisions to share and tweet content are made in fleeting seconds.  Don’t handicap your messages by ignoring all the different ways your intended targets might use the content you publish.

In the case of the recruiter, I actually took the time to send her a note explaining the problem with the attachment, and noting that if her firm wanted to recruit social media candidates, they needed to run a social-friendly recruitment campaign.   She replied, saying that she agreed, but that her boss did things “the old way.”  In this interaction is one more lesson for us all – it’s up to all communicators to ensure their organizations are in step with their audiences.  The up side of doing so is clear – your communications are more likely to be successful.  The down side is equally clear – your communications are more likely to be irrelevant.

Author Sarah Skerik is PR Newswire’s vice president of social media.

 

 

 

Image courtesy of Flickr member Donna Sullivan Thomson.

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