Tim Bond, Group Head of PR at the DMA urges the next generation of PR professionals to stop relying solely on email communication...
Pitching to journalists is hard. Things worth doing normally are. In my 8½ years working in public relations it’s become even harder. The media landscape is increasingly fragmented and the role journalists’ play has changed dramatically, particularly in B2B sectors.
Even the method of communication has changed. I didn’t start my career faxing out press releases, but I have worked with some people that did. We have come a long way since those days and with the power of email also comes a false economy, where some think that hitting send is ‘doing’ a pitch. Whether you’re using email, social media, a handwritten letter or carrier pigeon, without a response you are not having a conversation. And we are in the conversation business, so you have to at least try!
I’m in no way decrying email as a means of pushing out a press release or story. It’s a fantastic way to share information with a broad number of journalists quickly and easily. But more worrying is the trend I’ve seen in recent years, particularly from the next generation of our industry, where email is the only means of communication.
In an increasingly digital world, the act of picking up the phone and speaking to a journalist can make or break your story.
I would argue that this is even truer in B2B, where journalists may simply miss your email amongst the glut of other messages they receive from all the other PRs out there.
Pitching a story is not and should never be done by email alone. Yes, some journalists prefer it and will give you a hard time for calling them. But the vast majority that pick up the phone will listen to what you have to say (so be ready to say it too!).
On the phone, they will also give you feedback, if you ask for it, which is even more important if a story isn’t going as planned. This information gives you the power to suggest a change of tack that can be the all-important difference between success and failure.
Beyond ‘the pitch’, getting out from behind your screen and actually meeting or speaking to journalists can give PRs a much better understanding of the types of stories that the media are looking for. There are a number of organised ‘meet the media’ type events available to PRs, but these are often higher profile specialist or national journalists. So why not ask your key trade reporter to go for a coffee or a drink after work? If you haven’t tried this before, you’ll be pleasantly surprised by the response you’ll get and the opportunity it gives you to put a face to the name they see in their inbox.
Ultimately, having conversations is at the heart of our profession. For B2B PRs to be successful that’s even more important, because we’re often dealing with specialist publications that are looking for specific stories or topics. So if I can offer young B2B PRs one piece of advice it is this: Stop hiding behind your screen! Pick up the phone, get out there and meet journalists, and start having real conversations with people (because journalists are people too, remember).
The B2B PR Blog is a resource for both PR professionals and people working in B2B industries on how to devise and implement successful B2B PR campaigns. The blog is managed by b2b pr specialist Heather Baker, founder TopLine Comms, an inbound marketing and B2B content marketing agency and takes contribution from anyone sensible in the industry with something intelligent to say. Follow Heather on Twitter @TopLineFounder or contact her via email on [email protected].
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