With things still pretty uncertain in a lot of industries, the question I am still getting asked the most is whether PR pros can still pitch the media during this time. The answer is yes and no. Over the last eight weeks has the media landscape changed? Yes. But does that mean brands should stop communicating their messages? No. What’s important is for PR pros to do their research and to make educated decisions on whether the timing and messages they want to convey are appropriate.
Garrett Public Relations polled the media via Twitter back in late March to see if they still wanted to receive pitches and shared some of the thoughts from reporters. It was definitely a mixed reaction, but there was an agreement that it came down to the audience and topic.
Some things to think about if you are pitching:
- Research, research, research – PR pros should always be researching before they send a pitch but now more than ever it’s imperative to see what they have been covering recently and if their beat has changed; location also matters right now
- Keep it brief – emails have nearly doubled, keep your pitch short and customized
- Be creative – dig deep with your clients to uncover stories you don’t even know are important yet and consider niche outlets – everyone is turning to newspapers for COVID news but those looking for an escape are going to blogs
- Make it personal – reporters are looking for optimistic, human stories
- Timing – some research is saying that Monday’s are best for pitching
- Be patient – if a reporter doesn’t respond after a follow up email, respect that they may be too busy at the moment
If you don’t have worthwhile content to pitch right now, don’t just pitch to pitch. Now is a great time to build relationships with reporters and see how you can help them. Can you provide a thought leader? Can you do research on a particular story to help out? Leverage social. Social media algorithms are ranked as the most important new technology impacting journalists today, so show a reporter you aren’t just interested in having them cover your client – build a relationship by retweeting an article they posted, commenting on an article or sharing a story. Over time, this will help you gain a reporter’s trust and help build their social exposure.
At the end of the day, above all else, we must remember to be kind and choose empathy. Everyone is experiencing this crisis differently and those organizations and individuals that can lead by example will be remembered.