Creating a relevant and newsworthy story is important when delivering great Digital PR campaigns. PR experts spend weeks or days producing several well-detailed press releases that give journalists plenty of information as they’ve studied how these publications produce their news stories. However, producing a good press release isn’t always enough it’s the pitch that sells your campaign.
Learning to create attention-grabbing pitches and replicating the publications headline style is key when building relationships with journalists. Learning how they write their content online or in print is essential, as it verifies to the writer that you understand their audience and what content they need to help them hit editorial goals. But producing good journalism isn’t always enough. Taking the time to understand how publications work and when journalists prefer to be contacted by PRs working in-house or at a Digital PR agency.
One thing to be mindful of since the pandemic is that journalists are changing job roles or deciding to go freelance. So you must have a database to hand like Roxhill or Muckrack, that gives you a media license to contact reporters on a daily basis. Having access to these media databases is important when building releases and kick-starting your outreach strategy, as you can search for publications that are interested in the campaign that you’ve produced for your client.
Roxhill and Muckrack also include extra notes alongside each publication and writer who writes for these news outlets by clearly outlining their topic interest, working hours and when they want to be contacted. But there’s also one thing that people working in Digitial PR must be mindful of before putting together that media list. Respecting GPDR rules and double checking if journalists have included in their bios that they DO NOT want to be contacted by PRs, is important as you do not want to contact these people by mistake.
Over the last seven years in digital marketing, I’ve spotted how Digital PR executives pitch and secure news placements for our clients have changed drastically. Quality over quality is important when building media lists, and being mindful of people’s deadlines is important. The last thing you want is to waste time by promising them a story you cannot deliver.
I’ve outlined my top outreaching tips below to help you pitch your content at the right time to the press:
Check how often journalists produce content before you begin outreach – Great, so your campaign has been signed off by your client, and you’re ready to outreach, but before you go, upload your contacts into Buzzstream. It’s important to be aware of journalists working hours and locations, as you’ll need to make a note when you’re pitching via email or on the phone, which journalists are freelance, part-time or full-time. I recommend creating a spreadsheet and adding a note of how often these reporters produce content for your target publication, as it will clearly indicate how frequently they write and what story would be the best to pitch to them on that week.
Check if the journalist hasn’t changed newsdesk or publications – One thing PRs often forget is double-checking the media list they’ve built before they hit send. Quite often, journalists change newsdesks or move to other publications. So, it’s important before you go ahead and hit send that the writer you’re planning to target still works at the publication you want to get a high authority news placement on Daily Express, Metro or other UK-based newspapers.
Be mindful of time zones – With more reporters working freelance or, in some cases, abroad, their working hours will have changes. So, being mindful of when they are working or prefer to receive pitches is important if you want to build a good relationship with that writer. Another thing to be aware of as well, is if you’re pitching outside of the UK. If you’re pitching international campaigns, make sure you double-check the time zones in Europe and the U.S. before you email them, as you’ll be surprised how different the hours are across the globe!
Don’t spam their mailbox – One of the biggest pet peeves of journalists is receiving a pitch that isn’t relevant to them. So always double-check what stories they have written that week, as your campaign may no longer be relevant to them, especially if a big news story has broken that day.
Remember to hit pause on a campaign if there’s a breaking news story – Sometimes, a big event happens in the media, and this is something that PRs have no control over. Being aware of when this story breaks out and making a decision to pause a campaign temporarily is the best decision. Just remember to communicate this to your internally to your team and make your clients aware of what’s happening in the media, as people will understand that these things happen.
Don’t always expect a reply – 99% of the time, you’re not going to get a reply if you’ve pitched a story to a journalist. This is because they’re busy and don’t have the time to reply to every single person that has emailed them on that day. Before you follow up, take the time to check if they’ve not written something similar that day or have already written your story, as sometimes a story that you’ve pitched can go up the same day or several days later. So, be patient and wait before chasing.
Don’t overdo it with follow-ups – Quite often, journalists don’t always see your first pitch due to the influx of emails they receive that day. So, following up is important if you want your story to be seen. I recommend following up three days after your first email, as it will show that you’re patient and willing to wait to hear back from the reporter, as you’ve noted that you’ll like to have some feedback. If you’d like to follow-up again, you can do this, but just wait and see if they reply or write your story. If they’ve not seen any coverage, take this as a hint that this isn’t one for them.
Ready to take your business to the next stage? Please get in touch with our Digital PR team to find out more about our approach to digital campaigns or to find out how we can help you grow your business online.