Media relations can be one of the most rewarding aspects of marketing communications/public relations. Seeing the total fruition of your work – from learning about your client and the media to developing a compelling story for the appropriate journalist to pitching that reporter, to seeing your client on-air/in-print, on the Internet – – should be a great feeling.
Working with the media does have an inherent set of obstacles. Arguably, the biggest hurdle we face is that we are in an industry where many of our peers do not always work smart or strategically with reporters, editors and producers.
Whether it is sending out mass mailings, blindly calling an outlet without understanding what that outlet is all about, or e-mailing attachments to an inappropriate contact, some of our brethren have created an adversarial relationship with the media.
We must be sure that we do not demean or devalue what we do. When we do things the right way – that is create and develop a compelling/great story and provide it to the appropriate audience – we become a tremendous asset to the media and our clients.
Let’s use the next few blogs to take a look at developing the compelling message for the appropriate audience, as it relates to the media.
Pitch development can occur many different ways. Group brainstorm. Someone approaches you and asks you to promote X. You see something that your client is doing you believe to be newsworthy. Many different scenarios. No matter the situation, as you are developing the pitch, you should be asking yourself the following:
- How does the pitch reinforce/support the company’s or person’s vision/mission or goal?
To be clear, I’m not trying to make this harder than it is – contrary. By successfully illustrating how your pitch reinforces/supports the company’s or person’s vision/mission or goal, you are keeping yourself on the right track and helping to manage expectations.
For example, years ago I worked at an agency whose client was a wireless phone manufacturer. They were launching one of the first camera phones (told you it was years ago) “just in time” for the holidays.
One of the ideas we came up with – which we ended up running with – was to shoot b-roll of Santa Claus on his last vacation before the big holiday push, in Miami Beach taking pictures with his camera phone – – the coolest gift for the holiday season. Within the footage we had consumers commenting about the phone and we interviewed an analyst who talked about how and why the camera phone was going to be “the next big thing.”
We were confident the pitch supported the overall company goal of becoming a top five wireless phone maker in the U.S. because of the timeliness and quirkiness of the piece. We felt we had a complete story that would make its way onto local news affiliates across the country as a feel-good/kicker segment.
And since I’ve included this example this blog, I’m happy to say that the pitch was a huge success and with many stories like this, we were able to help the company achieve their goal of top five wireless phone maker within two years of launch (reached number two in 2004).
In my next blog, I’ll talk about the appropriate audience within the “compelling for appropriate” equation and I’ll provide some thoughts on how to develop that compelling pitch.