No, the press release is not dead. Press releases have all the delicious details. And details are what journalists love. In fact, 54.1 percent of journalists recently surveyed by Cision say they will pursue a pitch that is thorough and has all the details they need.
The press release, like media relations overall, just needs a few enhancements to make it 2016-friendly.
As a communicator, securing positive media coverage for your organization does a lot more than give you reason to do this:
(But, admittedly, that’s a really, really nice perk.)
Media relations can help your nonprofit:
- increase public awareness about an issue or program;
- draw attention to your organization’s accomplishment;
- and encourage public action on these issues.
To execute a fruitful media relations program and secure coverage that makes you do that dance a lot, here are three current best practices to bring your media relations program up to speed.
Share Visuals With Reporters
In the current media landscape, journalists are required to do much more than report on an issue or story; they may also be required to coordinate an image, source or produce a video, or craft several tweets to promote the story. In fact, the Cision survey reports that nearly half of journalists regularly use video- and image-based content in their work, with 13.5 percent saying they always do and 35.4 percent saying they often do.
As a communicator, you can simplify their lives by sharing compelling images or video that reporters can easily place into their stories. Doing so not only positions you as a valued resource in their eyes, but it also offers you the opportunity to expand your written story with a visual feature.
This can be a high-resolution photo of your mission in action or an infographic that breaks down complex research you are promoting. Given that the top publishers are moving toward interactive graphics, particularly for mobile, it’s time for you to begin to consider how dynamic visuals like infographics fit into your media strategy.
In my experience, local reporters are especially receptive to curating videos that you can share. Even professional looking iPhone video can make the news, especially if you’re pitching a local broadcast outlet.
Build Relationships on Social Media
There’s nothing that can match a one-on-one in-person meeting with a reporter to discuss your work, but in today’s media landscape, online tools can help you grow your media relationships. Twitter, especially, is one of the best platforms for you to connect with journalists online.
And journalists agree. Despite Twitter’s growth plateau, nearly 40 percent of Cision survey respondents say that Twitter is their most valuable social channel, with 73 percent saying they use social media platforms to build relationships.
Monitoring journalists on Twitter can help you understand their work better and identify opportunities to insert your organization into the conversation. Don’t hesitate to engage with them online by liking or retweeting their articles — they will see that engagement and, over time, they’ll recognize your organization’s name and become more familiar with your work, which places you in a prime position for when you pitch them a story.
Do Research Upfront to Increase Likelihood of Coverage
This is not a new best practice, but one that is increasingly important. Some reporters receive up to 100 pitches from communicators per day, and your job in media outreach is to grab their attention with a compelling, straightforward email pitch.
Yes, an email pitch. Ninety-three percent of journalists cite email as the best pitching medium, and 37 percent consider phone pitching off limits. Unless you have a great relationship with a reporter and have talked on the phone in the past, stick to email.
To increase the likelihood that reporters will respond to your email pitch and pursue a story, take the “just add water” approach by offering them all the details they need to craft a story. Most reporters will research different perspectives and several sources for a dynamic, well-rounded story. You can do this work for them by identifying useful partners in advance and providing their names and contact information, in addition to sharing all the good details of your announcement in a press release. These kinds of “just add water” stories save reporters time and increase the likelihood they will say yes to your pitch.
Have you observed other media relations best practices that have evolved over time? Please share in the comments below.