Pitching stories to journalists (and bloggers) is at the heart of many public relations campaigns. However, as the media landscape has evolved what makes a successful pitch has changed too. Newsrooms and PR firms are all doing more work with fewer people, making shortcuts tempting. But unsuccessful efforts waste precious time and resources. This is the first in a series of blog posts about improving the effectiveness of the pitch.
Redefine the goals:
Getting a story into print has long been the chief goal of pitching. And many execs still ask their PR departments and agencies to get their story into the Wall St. Journal, USA Today or New York Times. But news and information markets have changed, and there are new centers of influence emerging in digital realms. PR professionals know this, and it’s up to us to impress this fact – and to illustrate the value of “new media” pick-up – for those still fixated on print.
Just because the story doesn’t hit the print edition doesn’t mean all is lost. In fact, getting placement in a digital edition – or on a relevant blog – carries benefits that print simply can’t match. Digital content fuels social conversations and can drive qualified leads right to an organization’s web site. As you plan the strategy, don’t forget to target digital influencers – even if they aren’t attached to an organization that publishes printed copy.
Many people forget that the journalists and bloggers they are targeting in their campaigns are influencers on social networks. In many cases, journalists and bloggers are creating, curating and sharing content to promote their brands and outlets on social networks. They may decide that the story you pitch doesn’t warrant a full write up, but they may tweet it, like it, +1 it or share it with their followers anyway. And if you’ve done your research well, the people who follow that influencer are probably within your dream demographic for your pitch. Don’t discount the power and the value of a simple tweet from the right person.
The upside of synching pitching tactics with the digital reality of today’s media environment is the consummate measurability of digital. In addition to keeping an eye any mention of your pitch influencers make in social networks, you monitor the conversation in social networks, and if you’re prepared beforehand, you can also measure the traffic links distributed in the pitch. This requires a bit of a mind-shift for some, as measuring the results of story pitching has traditionally been focused on tabulating print media pick up.
More perspective on the evolution of public relations and influencer targeting is available in the free white paper, Modern PR: The Art & Science of Integrated Media Influence.