At a time when “fake” news is alive and well, great media-relations people have a well-rounded stable of third-party experts and data at the ready to offer and supplement their pitch
Julie Batliner, Carmichael Lynch Relate
You can’t get a degree in pitching media, so what can we learn from the best earned-media pitchers?
Beyond all the obvious things such as knowing the ins and outs of your client’s business and products, having good writing skills, being a strategic thinker, and understanding the news cycle, the best media relations people I’ve worked with are adept in these seven areas of artistry:
1. Cultural awareness. The best pitchers constantly look into what’s happening in the world and have insights on how the brands we represent fit into culture. They don’t pitch a product. They pitch a consumer need or cultural trend and how that product fulfills that need or fits into that trend.
2. Certified news junkies. Compelled to watch, read, and listen to all kinds of media, they know who covers what and what type of news resonates with them. They’re constantly thinking of relevant ways the client stories we have to tell fit into the medium.
3. Coffee schedulers who can pick up a phone. They don’t just email. And they don’t pitch news that isn’t relevant. They build rapport as a credible resource and help media even when it’s something outside of what they’re pitching. They learn what the reporter is interested in and serve up real, useful information. They’re great at developing a pitch that fits the reporter’s interest, not just their own. The best pitches deliver a win-win.
4. Great judges of the right contact, time, and place. Successful media-relations team members know when and where to pitch a story. They don’t just pitch a list, but they take the time to curate the right contacts and personalize the information. They package stories for the right season and the right column, quarter hour, or show.
5. Collectors of credible third-party sources. At a time when “fake” news is alive and well and reporters are under scrutiny, great media-relations people have a well-rounded stable of third-party experts and data at the ready to offer and supplement their pitch.
6. Knowledge of bloggers and social fans to inform traditional media. They follow bloggers who fall into the target audience or who have links to the story we want to tell. They get ideas to shape pitches and sometimes use bloggers and social conversation to drive traditional media stories.
7. Prosumerism personified. They have turned their hobby of news consumption into a job they truly love.
As advertising and digital agencies all jump on the earned media bandwagon, media relations teams have an opportunity to do what they do best and own earned media — especially if we keep coaching our teams to develop the right skills. When they do, they’ll deliver beyond the expected.
Julie Batliner is president and managing partner at Carmichael Lynch and Carmichael Lynch Relate.