The news cycle is overwhelmed with pandemic-related stories. Media organizations are facing trying times, including managing remote staff, a reduction in resources, and anti-press attacks. It’s now harder than ever to get the attention of reporters and pitch your company’s latest news. Yet, earned media remains an essential strategy for brands who want to reach their customers and prospects with trusted information.
To be successful at securing news coverage, brands must understand the current state of media and how to best engage the press.
Find the Right Audience
Before a brand can pursue earned media, research must be done to know the reporter and publication and ensure it’s an appropriate match for your story.
According to Cision’s “2020 State of the Media Report,” the No. 1 thing that PR professionals could do to help reporters is to understand reporters’ target audience, and what they find relevant. Of the over 3000 reporters surveyed by Cision, only one percent consider 75% to 100% of the pitches they receive as relevant.
To ensure relevance, read past stories and look at what reporters are sharing and discussing on their social handles, in particular Twitter, where many reporters and publications have an active presence.
Keep in mind that coverage areas of reporters and publications are changing in the face of COVID-19. For example, the New York Times has scaled back its Travel and Sports coverage and introduced a new section called At Home.
Be Strategic With Your Communications
Cision’s study emphasized that reporters feel bombarded with pitches and prefer email: 51% of respondents said they get from 1-50 pitches a week, 25% receive 51-100 per week, 10% receive 101-151 per week, and 14% receive over 151.
You need a good pitch, sent to the right contact and publication. If you don’t hear back right away, be patient, and send only one follow-up within a few days of your initial outreach.
Perfect Your Pitch
A pitch should be concise and include supporting information such as links and a press release. According to Cision, 72% of journalists said press releases and news announcements were one of the kinds of content they wanted to receive.
Within the pitch, let the reporter know the source available to comment, as well as when and how (video or phone) an interview can take place.
Put your news into the context of a bigger story or trend. You shouldn’t treat earned media as an advertisement or promotion (save this for owned and paid content). Therefore, do not fill your pitch with marketing speak and jargon.
Find Virtual Ways to Build Media Relationships
Your pitch is more likely to be read if the reporter knows you and your brand. Getting to know reporters is an integral part of securing earned media now and in the future. However, COVID-19 has halted our ability to network with reporters, and the broader marketing community, at conferences and events. In this environment, there are no face-to-face coffee or lunch meetings taking place.
You can, however, find creative ways to develop relationships. Social media is a valuable platform to explore shared interests with reporters. I’ve connected with reporters on topics such as cooking, fitness, parenthood, and music.
Now is not the time to abandon an earned media strategy. Instead, to break through the news clutter, brands should be strategic, flexible, and informed.