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HomeOpinionsBread, butter, and a little bit of jam: Taking the bite out of earned media

Bread, butter, and a little bit of jam: Taking the bite out of earned media

Think about the story you want to tell. Is it timely? Does it impact the outlet’s readers? Does it matter to the community or an industry? Ask yourself these questions as you craft your message.

Maret Montanari

Money can’t buy happiness – and it can’t buy consumers’ trust either.

The bread and butter of the PR world remains “earned media.” Nielsen’s recent study proves “pay to play” opportunities don’t earn the same level of trust from audiences.

Although earned media allows brands to create meaningful conversation with consumers, grabbing buzzworthy bites can be a struggle for PR pros. It doesn’t have to be that way, though.

Let’s assemble a few common ingredients that can help us in our mission to land newsworthy coverage for clients and businesses.

The bread

Without bread, there’s no toast. Likewise, without a pitch, there’s no foundation for a placement. Similar to a loaf of bread and its packaging, a pitch should be simple, relevant, and concise. Shoppers don’t want to waste time reading a package’s fine print – and the same goes for those you pitch. To earn success with a pitch, you must get to the point as quickly as possible – or, to continue the metaphor, as soon as the shopper notices the loaf of bread on the shelf.

Place yourself in the reporter’s shoes and think about the story you want to tell. Is it timely? Does it impact the outlet’s readers? Does it matter to the community or an industry? Ask yourself these questions as you craft your message and hone in on the most important points. After all, you cannot make a sandwich without the bread.

The butter

Just as the options of butter seem endless, so does the number of journalists. Once you have your pitch, it’s time to find the right reporter. Invest time in researching and developing a media list. Butter brands don’t win over new customers by selling them an unfamiliar product. If your pitch is not relevant to the journalist, he or she is going to press “delete” before finishing it.

Do a quick scan of journalists’ recent articles to get a feel for the angles they regularly cover. Even referencing a relevant article of the reporter you’re pitching shows them you did your homework. But word to the wise: Flattery will get you nowhere, so don’t butter up your media contacts too much.

The jam

A little bit of jam goes a long way, and can make the saddest piece of bread go from drab to fab. Following up with a reporter via phone call could give your first pitch a second chance. It can be scary to pick up the phone and call a reporter, but that’s why we have a voice.

Emails can be easily ignored; calls are harder to dodge. I learned this from experience. During a summer internship at Jackson Spalding, I phone pitched numerous newsrooms the morning of a client’s event, and several outlets told me they never received my email pitch from earlier in the week. Fortunately, those publications attended and covered the event due to the pitch call. Instant lesson: The power of the phone is real.

While there’s nothing worse than your pitch ending up in cyberspace, not delivering the media coverage your business needs can be just as bad. These simple tactics will help secure impressions – both literally and figuratively – and satisfy your company’s or clients’ appetite for growth.

Maret Montanari is a senior at the University of Alabama and director of the school’s student-run firm, which was named the top such agency in 2016 by the PRSSA. She was named PRWeek’s 2018 Outstanding Student.

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