When you think you have a great story and have prepared a solid media release, it may be tempting to immediately send this out to as many journalists as possible.
Sometimes, however, less is more.
When we speak to journalists in our weekly Spotlight interviews, they are constantly emphasising how much more valuable it is when brands, organisations and PR agencies send releases relevant to the journalists’ specific focus.
Latika Bourke, International Reporter for the Sydney Morning Herald and The Age, told Medianet the key to a focused pitch is ensuring you get the journalist’s name right and making it clear if you are offering them a potentially exclusive story.
“I will always try and respond to personalised pitches, whether it’s yes or no. Also, PR professionals should never be afraid to contact a journalist and refer to a story they have written that is relevant to their client; I am most inclined to read these emails out of all the press releases I receive,” she said.
“I have developed great contacts who have approached me using this method and I really appreciate it, particularly if it’s a topic I have an ongoing interest in and cover long-term.”
In a Medianet survey of over 900 Australian journalists, we found the most common “bugbear” or annoyance for journalists when receiving PR pitches is receiving press releases not relevant to their field.
So next time you are getting ready to distribute your media release, it’s worth pausing for a second to consider who would be the most effective target for your pitch. Sending a release to the wrong audience could harm your relationship with them, impacting on the success of your future campaigns.
A good place to start is searching an up-to-date database of media contacts for journalists who are currently covering the relevant subject matter. This pool of contacts can be further narrowed down if you consider whether your story is suitable for TV, print, radio or digital media platforms.
Once you have selected the most appropriate journalists to pitch your story to, make sure to personalise your email so it is obvious that your campaign is particularly relevant to them. A good database will also contain information on individual journalists’ particular pitching preferences (such as daily deadlines, whether or not they appreciate follow-up phone calls etc.), which is helpful to ensure your pitch hits the mark.
If you need some more tips on how to distribute your media release effectively, take this free two minute quiz for some personalised advice.
Don’t just take our word for it! Here’s what some other journalists have told Medianet:
“I think most journalists would say the more targeted the better: know the journalist, the show and the network you’re pitching to.”
“I look for relevance – both to my specific round and also to my publication. Basically, are you pitching to me or is this a form letter being sent to a list? This isn’t vanity – it’s important to know whether a story is going to be worth following up, because if the person pitching doesn’t know what I write about or what my publication tends to cover, then it’s likely the story they’re pitching won’t be a good fit for us.”
“I love press releases and emails that address me personally with relevant information. We’re all busy, but my big pet hate is publicists not putting any time and effort into their email pitches. So many non-personalised or relevant emails won’t get read at all. It’s also handy to be sent across hi-res food and drinks images in workable formats (JPEG) and food and drink menus of new venues.”
“I appreciate when [press releases] are relevant to my patch, so Melbourne and Yarra for me at the moment. I also appreciate if it’s short and sweet. If the description on the email or the first sentence can tell me what it is and whether it’s relevant to me it’s fantastic.”
Let us know if you have a question you would like us to ask in our next journalist interview.