How to Get Media Responses

Kate Lobel
By Kate Lobel

We recently held a webinar with myself, Jered, the Founding Partner and COO of OnePitch, as well as Cassie, the brand and community manager at OnePitch. We dove into the most important KPI any publicist has: the response rate from writers.

The webinar will be available soon, but in the meantime, here is a sneak peak of what we cover.

When thinking about the pain points of a publicist, ask yourself:

  • How many pitches have you sent that went unanswered?
  • How well do you know your target/desired media contacts?
  • How well do you know your clients’ expectations?
  • How many times do you follow up on your pitch?
  • Are you using any tools to make your job easier, more productive, or more effective?
  • Do you leverage social media to connect 1:1 with media contacts?

Digital + Traditional PR

In 2016, journalists have been outnumbered by publicists 5 – 1 and this number just increased to be 6-1 according to MuckRack. This means that while journalists still have to rely on credible sources provided by publicists, they receive more email pitches than they can handle. Journalists have also expressed that in addition to an influx of pitches, the majority they receive are irrelevant to their interests causing frustration and ultimately tension between the two professions that heavily rely on one another.

Pain Points for Journalists

Journalists are dealing with a lot when it comes to their professional and daily life. Deadlines, edits, editors, and the constant bombardment of irrelevant and misaligned pitches flooding their inbox makes the job of a journalist more difficult than most can imagine. Ever wonder why they don’t respond to your email, or respond with a very short reply? Chances are they’re dealing with all of the above plus a few more pain points outlined below.

1) Access to legitimate, expert sources

Reporters, journalists, and editors are constantly looking for expert sources and brands to quote or weigh in on their stories. You’d think the ratio of publicists to journalists, would easily combat this. The problems, though, are there’s simply too much volume to keep up with, too many irrelevant messages. According to CISION, 75% of journalist say content accuracy is most important for their organization, which requires extra vetting and research to ensure the source, and information is 100% accurate and true.

2) Lack of understanding and personalization

The second pain point journalists are constantly dealing with is the lack of quality, relevant pitches. Sending a general pitch typically means you’ll NEVER hear back from a media professional and can even land you on their blocked list.

3) An overwhelmed, cluttered inbox

On average, journalists we speak with receive 100s of emails per day. Out of those, only a handful are actually quality leads they can pursue.

Solutions for Journalists

Here are a handful of solutions journalists and publicists can implement to help them do their job better, and make it easier.

1) OnePitch

Journalists and reporters are regularly looking for sources and brands to feature in their stories. Many top tier publications like New York Times, Bloomberg, or TechCrunch have dedicated reporters working on FAAMG (Facebook, Apple, Amazon, Microsoft, Google) who don’t have as much of a need for new sources and brands. But there are A TON more who do.

Journalists and reporters on the startup beat, funding or M&A, and consumer products tend to have more of a need for sources and new brands. OnePitch developed a specific categorization and matching technology to provide journalists with the sources and stories they need to do their job easier.

2) Social media tools

Lack of understanding from publicists about a journalist’s interests causes a lot of frustration for journalists. A simple solution to this is to continuously engage with your journalist contacts on social media. Find an area of common interest and build a relationship from there. Tweet-deck is a great free tool for this and can help you to find the people that are involved in conversations that interest you.

3) Provide a clear pitch and know the tools that help journalists

One of the biggest pain points for journalists and reporters is a cluttered inbox as I’ve mentioned. Some deal with less volume on a daily basis, others wake up to 100s of emails they’ll eventually delete without a glance.

Make sure to provide a clear pitch about WHAT it is and WHY it’s relevant. Short, specific subject lines and bullets work best for allowing an easy way for journalists to digest the information.

Pain Points for Publicists

The biggest pain point for publicists is simply getting an editor to reply and say yes to cover your client, but let’s go a little deeper.

1) Receiving responses from pitches

If you are a publicist, you understand the struggle of getting responses. Since editors are in such high demand, it’s critical that you differentiate yourself. And I don’t just mean your client, I mean you personally! Figure out what make you the BEST publicist to work with and makes you special.

2) Time spent during the pitching process

The next pain point is the time spent during the pitching process. It’s really about thinking and working smarter. Many clients don’t understand the incredible amount of work that goes into securing one piece of coverage. We’re talking the ideation of the angle, approval of messaging, building of catered list, pitching of catered lists and emails, the follow ups and the conversations/interviews needing to be lined up to then actually make a piece of coverage go live.  

3) Unrealistic client expectations

The last pain point is one I’m sure you’ve felt if you work with clients. More often than not, you have to reset expectations with them. The key to resetting these expectations is to share with them the in-depth process executed on in order to secure coverage. Also outline the prospected value from various tiers of publications.

Solutions for Publicists

1) Point pitching is key

To break through the noise, it’s super important to take a step back and place yourself in the editor’s shoes. Ask yourself, “does this email look like it’s been sent to a few people?” If so, it’s definitely not personalized enough. We point pitch 90% of the time here at Power Digital. That means we do a LOT of research on the editor and cater our emails specific to what we know that writer covers and most importantly what they are passionate about.

2) Build a bond fist

Too often, publicists will go for the kill and just ask for them to take a look at the story idea, content, or even straight up ask to get covered! I’ve learned over the years, that it is SO important to first know who you are talking to really well and secondly take some time to introduce yourself, give them a quick call and let them know that you want to work together. Not simply to help you reach your coverage goals, but to help them find content, get resources and tell stories that will propel them in their careers as well!

3) Identify client goals & educate

One of the best solutions in terms of resetting client expectations it to go back to the basics and ask them what their goals are. Often times, they don’t know, and if they do, they likely don’t know what their PR specific goals are. That’s your opportunity to help them set their quarterly or annual goals, and you should do it together. In this process, educate them on what’s realistic and what’s not. It’s also a time to do some research and identify what placements actually made a difference against their overarching goals

For example, if your client is looking to grow its traffic in an effort to ramp up their spend over the holidays to convert through direct response channels, then I’d share with them that we should target publications that are also highly trafficked, but maybe a bit broader in the topic. If the client is looking to convert, and see a direct impact on the bottom line, I’d recommend we move forward with more niche blogs or trade publications where the audience is more industry-specific and ready to convert.

Wrapping Up

While publicists and editors have pain points that ultimately rely on each other, there are ways you can strengthen your pitching and relationships to drive better results for your clients.

Keep an eye out for this upcoming webinar and remember that the most important aspect of public relations comes down to being patient and doing your due diligence with research so your time isn’t wasted and neither is the editors!

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Kate is the director of Public Relations at Power Digital Marketing with an extenisve background in traditional media relations and digital marketing with the goal of bridging the gap between brand awareness and ROI.