Getting media coverage is one of the most powerful tools you can leverage to increase visibility and credibility in your industry. Pitching your ideas, products or services to reporters can be challenging, and it is easy to get discouraged when it seems like no one is responding. However, research, persistence and patience are critical when it comes to effective media relations.
Red Shoes regularly helps clients with their earned media efforts, which often involves careful research. This research is critical because if you don’t put the time in on the front end to find the right person to send your story idea to, you will be wasting your time pitching to the wrong person(s). Red Shoes finds these journalists through various research techniques and with the help of some software systems that allow us to find areas of focus for reporters at local, regional and national media outlets.
Additionally, Red Shoes pulls editorial calendars for trade publications at the beginning of each year. This allows us to see what areas of focus magazines are emphasizing each month and find those key areas where our clients can shine as thought leaders.
Once an opportunity has been identified and the right reporter to pitch is selected, then it all comes down to the art of the pitch. Red Shoes makes sure to write personalized emails to journalists that suggest subjects they would be interested in and expert resources for stories. We always outline what our client can offer, and every pitch is positioned as an educational resource, not as a sales pitch. The key here is to not expect to receive an immediate response. True to the core values of Red Shoes, pitching is all about tenacity, following up with journalists and making multiple touchpoints with them. It’s through these consistent efforts that Red Shoes builds its relationships with journalists.
Using a recent success story from Red Shoes, the following are a couple of important things to keep in mind when it comes to reaching out and developing relationships with local, trade and national media:
Building Relationships Takes Time
Media relations is all about building relationships with reporters. It’s no secret that reporters are busy, and they receive hundreds, if not thousands of pitches every day. Reaching out to a reporter once or twice and not receiving a reply is not enough to consider it a failed effort. It’s essential to remember that building a relationship takes time, and you need to nurture it. Rather than spamming reporters with irrelevant pitches, which will most likely get you blocked from their inbox, follow up with them consistently and give them reasons to trust you as a reputable source. For example, we found a reporter at The Wall Street Journal who focused on a subject that matched our client’s industry expertise. We sent him stories regarding our client and never heard back. Nevertheless, Red Shoes continued pitching that same reporter because his area of focus was in the area of expertise that our client was in, and eventually it paid off.
Timing is Everything
Sometimes a pitch may be suitable for a particular reporter, but the timing isn’t right, so he or she passes on the opportunity. It’s essential to understand that the media landscape can be unpredictable and follows current trends. An idea or topic that may not have stood out initially can be the perfect fit a few weeks or months later. By keeping in touch, you’ll be fresh in a reporter’s mind for future opportunities. Always follow up, a simple touchbase may be all that it takes to make a pitch turn into a media opportunity.
Going back to the Wall Street Journal example from above, our initial touchpoint with that journalist was in October 2022. At that time, Red Shoes heard no response back on the story we pitched, but in late March 2023, that same reporter reached out to Red Shoes for a similar topic to the one we had pitched him on five months earlier.
Consistent Messaging Builds Trust
If you are continually pitching to reporters, it’s essential to ensure that your message is consistent and aligns with your branding. By crafting a clear and concise message and consistently pitching it, you build trust with reporters, and they come to know what they can expect when they open your emails. Be sure that your messaging is relevant and relatable to your target audience too, a message that is irrelevant or out-of-touch will get disregarded. The Wall Street Journal reporter had to trust that Red Shoes was going to supply what he needed in the time frame that he needed it by, and we met his deadline. Red Shoes made a point to respond to this reporter’s request promptly, even during a holiday weekend with the employee corresponding with that journalist out on PTO. The reason for this timely communication all comes down to relationship building, which is at the heart of all earned media efforts. We needed to build this relationship with the Wall Street Journal reporter. He had remembered a pitch Red Shoes sent to him months prior and reached out to Red Shoes to get him a source for the story. It was critical that Red Shoes could deliver what that reporter needed by his deadline, to foster a trusted relationship with that journalist and have a potential for future stories with him in the future for that client.
Low and behold, three weeks after the first story came out for our client with The Wall Street Journal, that same reporter reached out again. This time, he wanted to talk to the same client, but he only had a single day to get the interview. Working promptly and within that reporter’s deadline, once again, Red Shoes delivered up a reliable source for that journalist and furthered our trusted relationship with him.
Don’t Give Up
When it comes to media relations, your persistence can be the difference between getting coverage and remaining invisible in your industry. It’s natural to get discouraged when a pitch gets rejected, but it’s better to keep going and persist rather than giving up. Giving up means losing out on opportunities to build and grow your business. Keep in mind that many successful earned media campaigns take weeks or months to develop, but the payoff can be substantial. Sometimes, earned media can even have a bigger impact than an ad campaign because its content doesn’t come off as an ad. People trust the news and when they see your name listed as the trusted source in a big story, it lends to your company’s credibility. The power of trust is unmatched and is worth nurturing, no matter how long it takes to earn it.
If You Need Help
Red Shoes has experts that build close relationships with local and national outlets, provide media training and advise clients on media relations tactics. Please reach out if you would like Red Shoes to help you maximize your company’s media relations efforts at (920) 574-3253 or email firstname.lastname@example.org to set up a consultation.