Media Calls Still Matter

It’s easy in this age of email, IM and texting to lose the personal touch that comes with picking up the phone and calling a reporter, editor or producer to either pitch a story or gauge interest in what they are looking to cover. 

Of course, many media types will say the best way to reach them is by email.  Others will issue the dreaded retort, “Please no follow up calls.  If we have any questions or want to cover your story, we’ll call you.”

At iMedia Public Relations, we still feel that personal contact goes a long way to properly position your client’s story.  Sure, we email pitches to contacts on a daily basis. However, there is a method to this as well.  Mass emails to contact lists don’t work.  Personally crafting a message that fits the target audience is what has always proven to be most effective.

For example, in sending something to the Deputy Sports editor of the Philadelphia Inquirer during the height of the National League playoffs, be cognizant of what’s going on in that market in terms of coverage.  If you acknowledge the craziness of the situation but give the editor something to hold onto that can be pegged to a window when it won’t be all about the Phillies, you’ll have a better chance.  Having developed a good working relationship with that editor will ensure that even in a crazed state of editorial affairs, your email will still get read and filed away.

The same holds true for producers.  I recently held a discussion with a segment producer for a leading regional morning show.  She told me she gets around 116 emails in each one of her two email mailboxes each day.  She told me to definitely call as a follow up to a pitch because she cannot possibly read all the emails.

Another news producer at a cable news outlet told me that he cannot believe the bad email pitches he gets each day.  “I just hit delete when I see bad mistakes,” he said.

Some of the things he looks for in a pitch are how the overall story is framed.  Does it appeal to his viewership?  What are the various components that can make it into a feature segment? What resources are available to be included in a piece? Is there enough background in the pitch to give him a strong feel for the story? And of course, is it really news.

Picking up the phone at the right time of day and taking the beat of the media will go a long way to helping you shape media coverage for a client.  That phone call you make today may guarantee that email pitch you send next week gets read by a key media influencer.

Tom Cosentino

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