Public relations is so vastly different from what we learned in college, and this applies to current grads. The way we learned it, agencies would pump out press releases daily, sending them out to every reporter under the sun, regardless of coverage or title. Now, less than 2% of pitches are picked up. Let that sink in for a second, 2%. It is a bit disheartening to say the least. How do you get coverage for your clients if the competition is that stiff? It all comes down to creativity and research.
For current students or recent grads, we’re going to break down the difference between media releases, pitches and media alerts/advisories. It may seem basic, but trust us when we say there is a big difference between the three. At the end of the day, it all comes down to relationships and genuine connections.
The majority of news that comes out of companies is not earth-shattering or really that enticing. Our job as communication professionals is to find the “angle” or relevancy to the audience. Press releases make sense when you are announcing something big, like a merger, product launch, massive growth, community partnership or anything that involves multiple parties, such as a development.
Along with the press release, you need to craft a pitch that is tailored to the publication and reporter you are sending it to. For example, let’s say you’re sending news of a million-dollar government contract win for a client. Find the reporter that covers the economy or local businesses or has in the past covered similar news. Then you craft a pitch, drop the press release below (don’t send it as an attachment. It’s irritating) and off it goes.
This leads us into pitches.
Forget press releases. Pitching is where it’s at. Simply put, you reach out to the reporter and the publication you want coverage with and give them the angle you feel is a good fit. While pitches will always accompany a press release, they more often succeed on their own. Gone are the days of mass distribution of a press release. It’s why PR is so incredibly time consuming now. You have to research the publication and journalist, review past stories written by said journalist, follow them on social, and then you reach out.
Below is a sample pitch we did for Cooper’s Hawk Winery & Restaurants for Thanksgiving a few years back. Keep in mind, this was what we started with, but it was then adapted for each and every publication and reporter.
Spend Thanksgiving with Cooper’s Hawk Winery & Restaurants
Subject: Make someone else cook for you this Thanksgiving
Cooper’s Hawk Winery & Restaurants is rolling out the red carpet for you and yours this Thanksgiving with a special chef-designed menu. Want a sneak peek of some of the mouth-watering dishes and wine pairings? I would love to coordinate a segment featuring holiday favorites with a Cooper’s Hawk twist!
Join the Cooper’s Hawk family as they take the stress out of the busy holiday with their mouth-watering Thanksgiving Day menu and wine pairings. The menu is filled with traditional items like butternut squash soup, slow roasted turkey, classically made stuffing, mashed potatoes and more! These Thanksgiving specials are available on Thanksgiving Day, November 28, for adults ($28.99) and children 12 and under ($12.99) to enjoy. Those eager to attend are encouraged to set up a reservation as soon as possible.
The winery’s expansive selection of wines will be expertly paired with the meal. I would love to coordinate a segment to further discuss keys to Thanksgiving cooking and wine pairing, with Cooper’s Hawk’s chef on your behalf if you’re interested.
We said it before and we’ll say it again: it is all about relationships. If you’re pitching nationally, it is going to take longer to build connections with reporters.
If you’re interested in learning more, reach out to our kickass team. We love talking about public relations.