Media relations best practices Last week, I made a trip to San Francisco to attend PR News’ Writing Boot Camp. Throughout the day, we heard from industry experts about ways to write more effective pitches and news releases to capture the media’s attention. Topics ranged from the creative use of social media to writing the perfect news release. Yet, one key theme stood out – time. (Or, in this case, the lack there of.)

During the conference, we were told two things. First, people usually form an impression of someone within 10 seconds of meeting them. And second, on any given day, it’s not uncommon for a journalist to receive a couple thousand emails.

What’s this mean for public relations? PR pros don’t have the luxury of time on their side.

In media relations, competition is beyond fierce and time is limited. Most people never make it past the subject line when pitching a story, and those who do may lose reporters by the second line. With thousands of emails coming in, reporters just don’t have the time.

There are best practices, though, to make sure your pitch is ready. A good email pitch is:

  • Clear and concise - Keep the message simple and to point by avoiding jargon. Never assume that the reporter understands acronyms or short hand, even if it’s industry-specific language. While it may sound cool, jargon just makes the message convoluted and complicated.
  • Sincere and specific - To paraphrase Dr. Seuss, “Say what you mean and mean what you say.” Paint a clear picture as to why your specific news is important, what prompted you to reach out and how your news will impact that reporter’s audience.
  • Creative and RELEVANT to what that reporter covers - Nothing irritates a journalist more than receiving a pitch that has nothing to with their beat. When you have seconds to grab their attention, it’s crucial that you’ve done your homework. More times than not, if you pitch haphazardly, you won’t get coverage, but chances are you will get a bad reputation.

Reporters are people, just like you and me…except they get thousands of emails a day with the latest and greatest “news.” So, the next time you decide to pitch a reporter, make sure you’ve thought about the three things above. When seconds count, you can’t afford to be overlooked.