Here’s a secret. PR people don’t know everyone. The real secret behind PR is understanding who people are and how to communicate with them. Calling in a favor is not something PR people can do much of anymore. The social media landscape has changed the way news is delivered and consumed. While its true that relationships can be very beneficial to PR when you’re working in vertical industries or continue working with someone, it’s not the way we win MOST of our media coverage. I tell you that from experience; the client story is WAY more important than who you know. There’s a pretty simple, yet tedious, formula that PR people stick with to secure media interviews and get that earned story.

  • Establish what you want to say – Don’t reach out to a reporter with a complicated message or no clear direction, that’s the best way to end up in the trash. Know what you’re pitching, keep it concise and always have the next step in mind. This is where you start a conversation (or at least try to).

  • Research reporters that cover your topic area – Make sure you do your research. Reporters are always complaining when PR people and regular people reach out to them just because they write for the target publication. Make sure the person you reach out to is the write journalist for the story you want to tell. Meaning don’t go to the Automotive reporter for an Enterprise software story.

  • Create a customized pitch that includes  – an anecdote about the writer, why they would want to cover your story, some resources/context/validation and a call to action from your email.

  • Follow up with the reporter – Don’t be afraid to follow up. This is where most lines of communication go flat and why most regular people don’t feel like they are being heard. Follow up is the most important task you can do in this process.

  • Provide valuable resources for the reporter – After getting the ear of a reporter, make sure you become a valuable resource. This is where your relationship building comes into play. Make crafting the story easy for them whether it’s having a press kit ready or providing a resource to some other part of the story. Be a helping hand to make sure your story gets published.

The most difficult parts of PR is being thorough, doing research and being persistent. We get shot down a lot, but the percentage of the times that reporters tell you “yes, we’d like an interview” definitely make all the hard work worth it and you’ll find that true as you try this process yourself. The more targeted your approach the better the results will be.