5 Secrets of Media Relations Masters

December 1, 2016


“What in the world are you doing here?”

That’s what I asked to open my presentation at PRSA’s International Conference at the end of October in Indianapolis. Hundreds of people were there to enhance their media-pitching skills when they could have been learning about social media, content marketing, SEO or any other facet of the new digital PR landscape.

What were their answers? “Top-tier media like the ‘Today’ show have a lot bigger audience than my social feeds” and “I’ve been looking for the third-party credibility that media coverage brings — in addition to bringing me new followers — that sets my owned media apart as more trustworthy.”

Those reasons, and more, are why media relations remains a core component of any PR pro’s toolkit. Here are five key elements I’ve observed that are regularly practiced by the best of the 7,500 people I’ve trained how to boost their media pitching results.

1. Make subject lines your teasers. Subject lines exist solely to entice your media targets to open your email. So give them just enough info to leave them wanting more. One master I know used “Waffles as Aromatherapy” to earn a Wall Street Journal column about her senior care center — with her brand in the headline!

2. Flip your script. Most people know that media pitches need to be short and to the point. But more than half of the pitches I review during my workshops begin by introducing the PR pro. Leave that for the end; lead with what you have to offer.

3. Create your own gold. Average PR pros believe their pitches are only as good as the material that their clients or organizations give them. The best, however, know they can turn lead into gold by injecting creativity and media savvy. Like the time the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), tasked with getting Americans interested in disaster prep (snooze), called their campaign, “How to Survive the Zombie Apocalypse.”

4. Get inside your target’s head. You already know that generic pitches rarely work. And now that today’s media influencers are so deluged with incoming pitches, it’s no longer enough even to customize your pitch. You need to go a step further and empathize your pitch to your target journalist. Consume her content, read her social posts, look at her photo and write to her like the human being she is — with hopes and dreams and demanding bosses and a job that’s alternatively frustrating and exhilarating.

5. Find winners to model. The hardest part about writing great pitches is the absence of successful examples. If you want to see how others write résumés or press releases, then you can easily find those online. But because of the private nature of pitch emails, it is extremely difficult to obtain them. The best media pitching pros find access to others’ successful pitches so they can continuously refine their approach based on what’s working now.

PRSA wants you to have access to more details and a depth of knowledge about these and other tips. So they’ve asked me to prepare five short videos that give specific examples and instructions about how to strengthen your media pitching skills. We’re rolling them out throughout December as a holiday gift to you.

Take a deeper dive into these secrets and view hard-to-find example pitches that landed top-tier media right now at MichaelSmartPR.com/pitchvideos.

Michael Smart

Michael Smart teaches PR professionals how to dramatically increase their positive media placements. He’s engaged regularly by organizations like General Motors, St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital and Georgia Tech to help their media relations teams reach new levels of success. Get more media pitching knowledge from Michael Smart here.



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