Back when I was a PR person, I spent a lot of time talking to journalists. Not to pitch them, but to learn from them. See, I’ve always been a big fan of Sun Tzu, and his book The Art of War. In it, he believes that the more knowledge you have of your enemy, the better equipped you’ll be when the time comes to fight them.
Now, I certainly don’t consider the media the enemy, and I don’t plan on engaging them in combat, but if your job is to get media to pay attention to you, and they’ve got a lot of other things to which they can also pay attention, every little bit helps.
So with that, here are four misconceptions people have of the press nowadays:
- Misconception: Media can work on stories forever, they all have tons of time, plus tons of assistants to do the busy work for them.
- Truth: Media has no time. At all. In the past fifteen years, the amount of journalists or assistants working at any given media outlet has decreased by over 50%. It’s not uncommon for employed journalists to be working on four or more stories at any given time, and for freelancers to need to work on a dozen or more stories just to stay afloat.
- What this means for you: Make a journalist’s job as easy as possible. Get the facts done. Get the interviews prepped. Anything you can do to save a journalist time will will go a long way in getting the journalist to use you again next time.
- Misconception: Press releases rock.
- Truth: Nope. Press releases are so overplayed at this point, you get virtually nothing from a journalistic aspect by paying for them. They might have slight SEO value, but more or less, that’s about it.
- What this means for you: Rather than taking the time to write a press release, then spending the money to distribute it, why not spend that same time finding a specific journalist and pitching them personally? 90% of the time, this gives you a much better result than a “mass-blast” to the whole world.
- Misconception: You need to go to a staff reporter to get your story placed
- Truth: You can get a surprising amount of placements by working with freelancers. They have the connections you don’t.
- What this means for you: Find out which freelancers are “regulars” at various publications, and do your homework on them. Chances are, if you can pitch a freelancer with a good hook, they’ll take it to their editor, and will have a much better chance of landing the story than you will.
- Misconception: Blogs or smaller publications aren’t as great as the major dailies
- Truth: Wrong.
- What this means for you: Smaller publications, like some blogs, or very niche journals might be great for you – not only because they’ll target a user-base that’s exactly your audience, but also, because journalists from larger publications read these outlets for story ideas.
In the end, it can pay to shift up your thinking about how you’re pitching journalists to cover your story. Different, in this case, can certainly be better.